U.S. corn supply tightens, but less than expected

Lower yields will reduce the U.S. corn crop by one per cent but a cutback in feed demand will allow a larger stockpile of the grain than expected, the government said Wednesday.

With the fall harvest in its final stages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture also trimmed its forecast of the soybean crop by less than one per cent due to lower yields. But smaller exports will mean a larger supply than expected at the next marketing year.

USDA said less corn will be fed to broiler chickens, with production forecast to fall by one per cent due to weakening consumer demand and lower wholesale prices. It said the U.S. crop is down one per cent, to 12.31 billion bushels, the fourth-largest on record.

The U.S. corn stockpile at the end of 2011-12 will be the smallest in 16 years, but larger than traders expected.

China will import three million tonnes of corn this marketing year, up one million tonnes from the October forecast, said USDA, pointing to "higher industrial use and feeding."

Thailand’s rice production will be cut by 4.5 per cent because of flooding, said USDA. Flooding also damaged the rice crop in Burma, Cambodia and Laos.

The U.S. wheat crop is fractionally smaller than thought, USDA said after a special survey of the rain-delayed harvest in the northern Plains and Pacific Northwest. The spring wheat harvest was down 1.5 per cent from the previous estimate.

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