Ontario expected to ship a million tonnes of corn to the U.S. for feed and ethanol

Reuters / Canadian corn is flowing to U.S. ethanol plants and feed suppliers in larger-than-usual volumes, with up to one million tonnes expected in 2012-13, as a large Ontario crop backfills demand after last year’s severe U.S. drought.

Canada is normally a net importer of corn, feeding Eastern Canada’s pigs and poultry and supplying Ontario ethanol plants. But the worst U.S. drought in more than 50 years has forced corn buyers to look north.

“Ontario had not a lot of rain last year, but it was timed almost perfectly so we had the biggest corn crop in history,” said Steve Kell, grain merchant at Parrish & Heimbecker. “It’s just a natural redistribution. And it’s moving.”

Ontario accounted for about two-thirds of Canada’s 13.1-million-tonne corn harvest.

Kell predicted more than one million tonnes of Ontario corn will move south this crop year, and maybe more if there are U.S. corn planting delays.

That would be the second-biggest Canadian corn export program on record, after nearly 1.7 million tonnes were shipped two years earlier following a poor coarse grain harvest in Europe.

Canadian exporters say most of the corn is feed or destined for ethanol plants in the northeast U.S.

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Karl Plume is a reporter for Reuters.

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