Corn use for ethanol likely to top 5 billion bushels this year

By Susanne Retka Schill | August 11, 2014

Corn use for ethanol production is likely to hit 5.1 billion bushels for the current marketing year, based on current estimates of 14.1 billion gallons of ethanol production. University of Illinois ag economist Darrel Good focused on ethanol prospects in his Aug. 11 analysis, the day before the USDA’s August supply/demand report.

“Ethanol use of corn has increased during the 2013-14 marketing year following a sharp decline during the 2012-13 marketing year,” he writes. “The increase has been fueled by a combination of increased domestic consumption of ethanol, increasing exports and declining ethanol imports, and some rebuilding of ethanol stocks. Based on U.S. Energy Information Administration monthly estimates of ethanol production from September 2013 through May 2014 and weekly estimates for June and July 2014, it appears that domestic ethanol production will reach about 14.1 billion gallons during the 2013-14 corn marketing year that ends on August 31. That compares to about 12.8 billion gallons during the 2012-13 corn marketing year and 13.8 billion gallons during the 2011-12 corn marketing year.  Ethanol production of 14.1 billion gallons points to corn consumption of about 5.1 billion bushels during the current marketing year.”  

A positive trade balance and a modest increase in domestic motor fuel consumption should support ethanol production during the upcoming marketing year, Good writes.  “A positive trade balance should be supported by relatively low ethanol prices and relatively high gasoline prices as well as favorably priced U.S. ethanol relative to Brazilian ethanol.”

As for the U.S. EPA’s final rulemaking for the renewable fuels standards, he says, it “is not expected to have much impact on domestic ethanol consumption during the year ahead. The primary impact from the expected reversal of the preliminary write down of the renewable mandate for 2014 would be to incentivize a small increase in consumption of E15 and E85. Domestic ethanol production during the year ahead should be maintained at or slightly above the level of the current marketing year, pointing to corn consumption of 5.15 to 5.2 billion bushels.”  

For the complete analysis of other demand sectors, see the complete report “Prospects for Corn Consumption."