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Weekly Update on Export Inspections

Market Intel / March 6, 2019

USDA’s Feb. 25 Federal Grain Inspection Service report revealed soybean export inspections at 955 million bushels, down 33 percent from this time last year. At 1 billion bushels, corn export inspections are up 26 percent from prior-year levels.

Pace of Soybean Exports

Soybean export inspections, at 955 million bushels, are down 480 million bushels, or 33 percent, from prior-year levels. While current soybean export levels are approaching 1 billion bushels, U.S. exporters still need to export over 875 million bushels to reach USDA’s 1.875-billion-bushel projection for the 2018/19 marketing year. The average weekly soybean inspection through week 26 of the current marketing year is 37 million bushels per week, down 18 million bushels from last year’s 55-million-bushel averge and down 24 million bushels from marketing year 2016/17’s average of 61 million bushels. Figure 1 illustrates the weekly soybean export inspections through the week ending Feb. 28.

The largest driver of the below-average soybean export levels remains inspections to China, which, at 138 million bushels, are down 85 percent from last year. At 12.4 million bushels, the current weekly export inspections for the 26th week in the marketing year are down 15 million bushels from last week’s 27-million-bushel export levels. ,With these substantially lower export inspections, China, previously the top destination for U.S. soybeans, has slipped to the No. 2 export destination. The European Union represents the largest customer of U.S. soybeans, with 212 million bushels, or 22 percent, of total soybean exports for marketing year 2018/19. Soybean export inspections to the EU are up 9 percent from last year. Through the first 26 weeks of the marketing year, export inspections to Mexico and Argentina are also up substantially from last year, representing a 15-million-bushel and 71-million-bushel year-over-year increase, respectively. Figure 2 outlines the top five destinations for U.S. soybean exports for the first 26 weeks of the marketing year.

Pace of Corn Exports

Corn export inspections, at 1.02 billion bushels, are up 265 million bushels, or 26 percent, from prior-year levels. USDA’s Feb. 25 report revealed weekly corn export inspections increased to 34 million bushels, up 4 million bushels from last week. Weekly corn export inspections overall for marketing year 2018/19 are smoothing out from record levels seen earlier in the marketing year. USDA’s projection of 2.45 billion bushels of corn to be exported in marketing year 2018/19 remains the target for corn exports with half the year remaining. Figure 3 outlines cumulative weekly corn export inspections through the week ending Feb. 28. 

With U.S. corn production at record levels, corn export inspections to the our top customers have increased substantially. Export inspections to Japan at 270 million bushels and South Korea at 93 million bushels have seen the largest increase in year-over-year corn export with a 54 percent and 100 percent increase respectively. Mexico, the largest customer of U.S. corn, has also increased exports through the 26th week of the marketing year, representing an 11 percent increase from prior year levels. Figure 4 outlines the top five destinations for U.S. corn exports for the first 26 weeks of the marketing year.

Megan Nelson
Economic Analyst
(202) 406-3629

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Credit: United Soybean Board/CC BY 2.0 

On March 21, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service published the County Yield Estimates, which include county average crop yields per harvested acre for corn and soybeans. At the county-level, corn yields ranged from less than 100 bushels per acre in portions of the Southeast and the western Corn Belt to greater than 200 bushels per acre across many portions of the Corn Belt. At the county-level, soybean yields ranged from less than 40 bushels per acre in portions of the Southeast and Upper Midwest to greater than 60 bushels per acre from Nebraska, through the Corn Belt and into Western Ohio.

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