In ‘Unprecedented’ Move, China Sharply Revises Historic Corn Data

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This chart shows historical data revisions made to Chinese corn production numbers reaching back to 2015. 

The USDA called “unprecedented” a move by China to revise a decade of its agricultural data for production, domestic consumption, and ending stocks of corn and other crops. Some of the revisions are huge. For its 2017 revision, for instance, China said it produced 259.07 million tonnes of corn, up 20 percent from the 215.9 million tonnes originally reported. The Chinese revisions, which go back to the 2007/08 marketing year, follow the results of China’s Third National Agricultural Census conducted last year, the first census in over a decade, the USDA said.

The updates, which were included in the USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE, report for November, suggest China’s previous corn production numbers were far below actual production. The full decade of data revisions added 266 million tonnes of additional corn production, the USDA said.

The new China figures prompted the USDA to revise its own estimates for world corn ending stocks for the latest year to 307.51 million tonnes, nearly double its estimate from last month of 159.35 million tonnes. The USDA’s estimate for China’s corn ending stocks jumped to 207.49 million tonnes from 58.50 million tonnes that the US agency estimated last month.

Expanded acreage appears to be the reason behind China’s higher production values. Last year’s reported planted corn acreage was bumped to 42.4 million hectares from 35.5 million hectares. China’s National Bureau of Statistics explained that previously undocumented farm operations in the rapidly developing northeast region of China account for much of the data revisions. Until recently, many of these farms had not been registered with the government. China’s Ministry of Agriculture’s official reports, known as CASDE, at the moment still don’t reflect the revised figures.

Gro Intelligence subscribers can easily access up-to-date Chinese agricultural data to monitor supply and demand for key crops.

This chart illustrates world corn stocks before and after the Chinese data revisions announced this week.

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