USDA: March WASDE maintains forecast for corn use in ethanol

By Erin Voegele | March 10, 2020

The USDA maintained its forecast that 5.425 billion bushels of corn will be used to produce ethanol during the 2019-’20 crop year in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, released March 10.  

In the report, the USDA said the March outlook for 2019-’20 U.S. corn supply and use is unchanged from February. Corn area planted is forecast at 89.7 million acres, up from 88.9 million acres in 2018-’19. Area harvested is currently projected to be 81.5 million acres, up slightly from 81.3 million acres the previous season. Yield per harvested acre is expected to be 168 bushels, compared to 176.4 bushels in 2018-’19.

Beginning corn stocks are projected at 2.22 billion bushels, with production expected at 13.69 billion bushels, up from 2.14 billion bushels in 2018-’19. Feed and residual use is expected to reach 5.53 billion bushels, down from 5.43 billion in 2018-’19. Food, seed and industrial use is forecast at 6.82 billion bushels, up from 6.79 billion in 2018-’19. Approximately 5.425 billion bushels of corn is expected to go to ethanol production in 2019-’20, up from 5.378 billion bushels in 2015-’19, but down from 5.605 billion bushels in 2017-’18.

The season-average corn price received by producers is lowered 5 cents to $3.80 per bushel based on observed prices to date.

The forecast for global corn production is raised by 400,000 tons, as an increase for South Africa is partially offset by reduction for India, Peru and Russia. For South Africa, production in higher as continued favorable conditions during the month of February boost yield prospects.

Major global trade changes for 2019-’20 include higher projected corn exports for Ukraine, South Africa and the European Union. For 2018-’19, Brazil’s exports for the marketing year ended February 2020 are lowered based on smaller than expected late season shipments. Partly offsetting is an increase for Argentina. Corn imports for 2019-’20 are raised for Canada and Peru, but lowered for the Philippines.

Foreign corn ending stocks are raised, as increases for South Africa, Canada and Russia more than offset a decline for Argentina. Global corn ending stocks, at 297.3 million tons, are up 500,000 tons from last month.