UkrAgroConsult turned up the temperature on the outlook for competition
in world corn trading by forecasting that Ukraine's shipments could hit a record
high, with harvest hopes raised despite a slow start to sowings.
The influential analysis group raised by 1m tonnes to 20m
tonnes its forecast for Ukraine's corn exports in 2017-18, taking them above the
19m tonnes expected for this season.
The upgrade reflected a 700,000-tonne increase to 26.2m
tonnes in the estimate for the country's corn production this year, besides
ideas that inventories left over from last season will be smaller than had been
"The harvest can be expected at 26m-26.5m tonnes, ie it will
not fall from the  level," said Kiev-based UkrAgroConsult, which
estimates last year's output at 26.0m tonnes.
"At the same time, the 2017-18 exportable stocks may exceed
a record 20m tonnes at the expense of high carryovers and a possible rise in
The estimate of corn shipments next season from Ukraine, the
world's fourth-ranked shipper, is higher than that from some other
commentators, including the International Grains Council, which pegs the figure
at 18.8m tonnes.
And it comes at a time of changing dynamics in world corn
trading, with China running down its inventories of the grain in part at the expense
of foreign purchases, and South African exports expected to recover after
successive drought-hit harvests.
Brazil is widely seen returning to being a force in exports
later this calendar year, after being caught out by a poor safrinha crop in
2016, although shipments from the top-ranked US are widely forecast to fall in
2017-18, as planting cutbacks curtail production.
The UkrAgroConsult revisions follow a 155,000-hectare upgrade,
to 4.51m hectares, by the Ukrainian farm ministry to its estimate for the
country's corn sowings this year.
"Theoretically, this expansion is possible in view of corn's
high profitability," the analysis group said, if cautioning that "quite a lot
will depend on the spring weather conditions".
Indeed, corn sowings started late this year, and had, at 341,000
hectares as of Tuesday, reached 7.6% of the total expected for the season –
compared with 907,000 hectares, or 20%, a year before, official data show.