China’s Corn Crop Threatened by Toxin Risk After Heavy Rains

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China’s big corn crop has been hit by heavy rain and flooding, delaying harvests and increasing the risk of mycotoxin contamination in the damp grain. 

China is still expected to produce a bumper corn crop this season, as shown by Gro’s China Corn Yield Forecast Models. Gro is predicting that China’s corn imports will decline in 2021/22 from a year earlier as domestic output increases and local meat production growth slows, as seen via Gro’s China Pork Demand Forecast Model

But a deterioration in grain quality could increase China’s corn import needs, which would likely favor US suppliers. Poor-quality corn could also be diverted to ethanol production, and could raise China’s animal feed prices. China is the world’s second-largest consumer of corn at over 285 million tonnes annually.

Excess rainfall, which reached a 20-year high for this time of year in corn-growing regions, can encourage greater growth of molds that produce mycotoxins, including vomitoxin, which in animal feed is particularly dangerous for young pigs and breeding swine. China’s energy shortage could add to the problem by raising the cost of drying and storing the grain. 

Peak harvest occurs in October in China’s main corn-growing areas of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Nei Mongol, Shandong, Henan, and Liaoning, and a bit more rain is currently forecast for the next week in several of those regions. As of October 10th, the 30-day total precipitation, weighted by corn production at the district level, was 161 millimeters or about 99% above the 20-year average level for this period.

Gro users should continue to monitor Gro’s China Corn Yield Forecast Models to see if the heavy rainfall impacts the size of the crop, while Chinese cash corn prices, and the price relationship among competing feed grains, also provide valuable clues to China’s corn supply and demand balance. In addition, forecasted precipitation can signal risk of crop quality problems. 

Gro’s Aflatoxin Risk Index is a model framework to predict risk of aflatoxin contamination in crops, and can be adapted to other mycotoxin types. Contact if you would like to learn more about this model.

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