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March 31, 2010

World maize crop to top 800m tonnes for first time

The world's corn crop is to top 800m tonnes for the first time, thanks to raised hopes for Argentine and South African production, US officials have said in a report trimming price hopes for American farmers.

The US Department of Agriculture, in a much-watched report on global crop supplies, lifted by 5.9m tonnes to 803.7m tonnes its forecast for the world's 2009-10 corn harvest.

The revision reflected an increase of 3.8m tonnes - or 22% - to the harvest in Argentina, the world's second-biggest exporter of the grain, with South African production pegged 2.0m tonnes higher.

"Harvested area and yield are raised for both countries as abundant soil moisture and lack of stressful heat during the past month supported crops through critical stages of development," the USDA said.

The raises dwarfed a downward revision of 480,000 tonnes to America's corn production following a resurvey of farmers, to take account of a harvest heavily delayed by a wet autumn.

The revision, equivalent to 20m bushels, was significantly lower than the 70m-bushel change that analysts had expected.

Furthermore, its impact in shrinking year-end stocks was more than offset by weaker hopes for exports, "as larger foreign supplies increase competition".

American corn inventories will end 2009-10 at 27.2m tonnes (1.799bn bushels), the USDA said, increasing its estimate by 540,000 tonnes (80m bushels).

Growers would feel the impact of the slacker market in their pockets, with US farmgate prices set to average $3.45-3.75 per bushel over the season, down $0.20 on previous hopes.


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