If farmers plant 92 million acres of corn in the next few years (down from 97 million this year) and the yield is say 162 bushels per acre a figure that is at least a few bushels under the long-term trend), we need to export 2.5 billion bushels for production and use to balance. Getting exports to that level will be extremely difficult. With total world trade near where it is now the U.S. would have to have a market share of 65 percent or higher. The average market share for the U.S. in the mid-2000s was 63 percent.
click image to zoom If exports rebound to around 1.5 billion bushels, that puts total demand (domestic plus exports) at 12.6 billion bushels. Again, assuming a below trend yield of 162 bushels per acre, corn production would match use if farmers plant only 85 million acres. Cutting corn acreage by 10 million acres or more would require a huge adjustment in both the farm and the agribusiness sectors. This is pretty scary near-term math and it is hard to see a different outcome near term – unless China suddenly becomes a BIG importer.