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Frost-hit Mexico faces Record Corn Imports

02 November 2011

MEXICO - Mexico faces record corn imports thanks to a cocktail of weather setbacks, ranging from drought to torrential rains, which have cut production prospects, and sent tortilla prices to record highs.

The country, which had been expected to see one of its best-ever crops in 2011-12, of 24.0m tonnes, is now looking at a 20.5m-tonne harvest, a decline year on year, US Department of Agriculture said, reports Agrimoney.

Spring-summer corn, the bigger of Mexico's two crops, "has suffered a combination of adverse weather factors such as late rains, frost and floods that… reduced total yields", the attaches said.

Some 380,000 hectares of, mainly corn, crops has been hurt by an early-September freeze, the country's second damaging chill of the year, after a February frost which affected in particular crops in the major growing state of Sinaola.

And corn farmers in Sinaloa, Mexico's biggest producer of autumn-winter corn, looked set for a second year of disappointment, thanks to dryness which has left reservoirs less than half full with the sowing season about to begin.

Sergio Soto, a deputy director at Mexico's water board, Conagua, said that "what is really worrying is the situation in Sinaloa's water reservoirs, which are suffering from serious water restrictions", at a time when moisture is badly needed, with the state's corn sowings about to begin.

Import needs

Mexico will make up some of the corn deficit through alternatives such as, in feed, distillers grains, of which the country has become the top importer from the US, with buy-ins rising 16 per cent to nearly 1.3m tonnes in the first eight months of 2011.

However, it will require bigger corn imports too, of 9.8m tonnes, 600,000 tonnes more than the USDA is currently factoring in, the attaches said.

Mexico's current corn import record is 9.56m tonnes, set four years ago.

The country's corn imports are particularly important for US trade. Not only is Mexico the world's second-ranked corn buyer, after Japan, but it sources nearly all its imports from its northern neighbour.

Tortilla prices

Mexico's weather setbacks have affected fortunes in both production of yellow corn, used in animal feed, and the white variety used to make tortillas, and in which the country is normally self-sufficient.

However, Mexico has been forced to turn to the US for imports of white corn too this year, buying 854,000 tonnes from the US and South Africa in the first eight months of 2011, in the face of soaring tortilla prices, which reportedly hit a record last month.

TheCropSite News Desk



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