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Source: blog by Ben Brown, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri

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Spring planting continues across the Midwest United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported corn plantings as a percentage of planting expectations of 17 percent for the week of April 25, 2021. Below average late-April temperatures slowed planting progress last week, but the National Weather Service's 6 to 10 day forecast signals favorable early May planting condition, except for the upper Midwest where an elevated probability of above average precipitation exists.

Annual U.S. production estimates, a function including acreage intentions, planting progress, and summer weather forecasts, undoubtably impact cash and futures markets at an increasing significance this time of year. Yet, recent price increases in futures and local basis can be attributed to decreasing available supply and export demand experienced to date. This article updates U.S. corn 2020/2021 exports and prospects for the remainder of the marketing year ending August 31, 2021.

Corn Export Summary
After a relatively slow start for corn exports compared with recent years, U.S. corn export inspections currently exceed the historical pace needed to hit USDA's 2,675-million-bushel record projection in its April update by 62 million bushels. With 18 weeks left in the marketing year, inspections through the week ending April 22 total 1,623 million bushels, roughly 61% the expected annual total. Export inspections for the same week the previous three years expressed as a share of the corresponding April World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) forecast in 2018, 2019, and 2020 were 52%, 60%, and 51%, respectively. USDA increased their corn export estimate 75 million bushels in the April WASDE on strong export inspections.

During the week ending April 22, 76.8 million bushels were inspected for export. Weekly export inspections in late February, March, and early April were historically very strong. Three weeks - February 25, March 11, and April 1 - had export inspections over 80 million bushels. As a result, March is expected to have set a monthly record for corn exports at roughly 361 million bushels, beating the previous record set May 2018 of 305 million bushels and the March record of 262 million bushels set in 2017.

Weekly export inspections averaged 72 million bushels the previous five weeks with a high and low of 85.1 and 61.4 million bushels, respectively. To hit USDA's export target, inspections need to average 58.4 million bushels over the remaining 18 weeks.

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