Corn grows in a field outside of Wyanet, Illinois, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Acker/File Photo

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NAPERVILLE, Illinois, April 28 (Reuters) – Corn and soybean prices are near record highs, but the United States has sold record volumes of its staple export crops in the next cycle, which could indicate that demand will remain strong until 2023.

This trend also likely reflects concerns from major buyers like China that global supply could continue to tighten for at least another year. This could keep US exports high for a third consecutive year given the good summer harvests.

As of April 21, U.S. exporters have sold 14.95 million tonnes (560 million bushels) of corn and soybeans for shipment in the 2022-23 season from September 1. That’s 63% more than a year ago, when volumes were at multi-year highs. .

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Both cultures also drove this surge and are independently at record paces. New crop maize sales at 4.2 million tonnes were up 61% on the year and soybeans were up 64% at 10.7 million.

China has become the top buyer of U.S. corn in 2020-21, but the main traditional customer, Mexico, tops the list for current and future year reservations with 1.72 million tonnes purchased for 2022-23. China bought 1.56 million as of April 21 and has obtained at least 612,000 tonnes since.

Chinese buyers didn’t start buying new-crop US corn last year until May, when they bought nearly 11 million tonnes in three weeks before going silent for several months. They started buying for 2022-23 last month.

It is unclear whether China intends to remain one of the world’s top maize importers since increased purchases in 2020, although its recent US interest may indicate concern over upcoming supplies from Ukraine. , the traditional supplier from China.

There has also been uncertainty about the strength of demand for soybeans in China, as expensive soybean meal has been cut from food rations, but the 7 million tonnes of U.S. oilseeds already forecast for next year are record and well above anything we have seen in recent years.

It could mean several things. China may have moved its buying window earlier due to fears of higher prices, and this demand may or may not remain strong during the traditional buying period later in the year. However, China knows a record US crop is on the way, so supplies should be plentiful by October if yields are sufficient.

Another possibility is that China is replenishing its soybean reserves after several recent auctions. Shipments from Brazil, the top supplier, are expected to ease by mid-year after a crop failure there.

U.S. new crop corn and soybean export sales

NOT JUST CHINA

China’s dominance in the U.S. soybean and corn markets can sometimes mask the overall health of demand, but sales are very strong outside of those destined for China.

Sales of new crop soybeans to all destinations other than China or unknown, which is often China in the case of soybeans, stood at 1.17 million tonnes as of April 21, less than one shipment. less than last year’s all-time high at this date.

Mexico had amassed a record 517,500 tons of US soybeans for 2022-23, and Egypt and European countries got bigger volumes earlier than normal.

Sales of new-crop U.S. corn to all known non-Chinese destinations are one shipment behind last year’s peak at 2.25 million tonnes, most of which is the record volume to Mexico.

The US Department of Agriculture will release its first official outlook for 2022-23 supply and demand on May 12, but the agency made a preliminary forecast in February.

At that time, the USDA forecast U.S. corn exports for 2022-23 at 2.35 billion bushels, down from 2.425 billion in 2021-22 and 2.75 billion in 2020-21. The 2021-22 estimate rose to 2.5 billion in March and 2.26 billion bushels had been sold for export as of April 21.

The agency’s February outlook puts 2022-23 U.S. soybean exports at 2.15 billion bushels, down from 2.05 billion in 2021-22 but below 2.26 billion in 2020-21. The 2021-22 estimate rose to 2.09 billion in March, then to 2.115 billion in April, and those sales were 100% hedged as of April 21.

Karen Braun is a market analyst at Reuters. The opinions expressed above are his own.

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Editing by Matthew Lewis

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The opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which is committed to integrity, independence and freedom from bias by principles of trust.