Serbian Corn Export to Fall by 33%


May 26, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

This spring, Corn is estimated to be planted on 1 million HA in the first two weeks of April. Production is expected to reach about 6.5 MMT with an average yield of 6.5 MT/HA. However, precipitation and temperatures in spring and summer will influence the final size of the MY2023/24 Corn crop. With Corn production of 6.5 MMT, Serbia will have sufficient Corn for domestic use at about 4.2 MMT and about 2.3 MMT for exports in MY2023/24.

MY2022/23 Corn was planted on 950,000 HA (the last spring). For the second year in a row, summer drought negatively impacted the size of the Corn crop. Due to the lack of precipitation from May to August 2022, along with very high temperatures of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period, production was only 5 MMT, a decrease of 1.4 MMT or 22 percent compared to MY2021/22 when the summer drought also damaged Corn production.

Due to the extreme drought, the Corn harvest started in mid-August, almost a month earlier than usual. The Corn cobs are tiny, with damaged kernels and many full of worms. There are a significant number of Corn fields without cobs at all and with Corn stalks a mere 50 cm high. Even irrigated Corn is suffering, as agronomists indicate that irrigation was done too late without adequate water. In an average year, Corn has 16-20 percent moisture and needs to be dried artificially or naturally to 14-14.5 percent, primarily to meet requirements stipulated by international grain traders.

Due to the extreme summer drought in Serbia, MY2022/23 Corn is of lower quality. Dry and warm conditions across Serbia, combined with lower use of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and plant protection products, contribute to lower Corn production. Spring planting was 40 percent more expensive than last year. However, due to the export ban, Serbian farmers could not export Corn from the beginning of March until the ban was lifted.

Usually, from March, Serbian farmers sell the previous year’s Corn stocks to fund the new planting season. Most farmers keep their stock in open-air storage facilities to dry naturally. The dry period has coincided with the critical Corn pollination period, thus increasing the risk of poor kernel development. The combination of very high temperatures and an extended period without rainfall, which contributed to increased aflatoxin levels in Corn, and the reduction in financial options for farmers to apply total agro-technical measures, made Serbian Corn even less competitive in the world market.

Corn is a crop that producers can easily store on their farms. Farmers harvest the crop in October and November. The crop is stored on farms to dry naturally or taken to drying facilities. Farmers hold their Corn until the spring. They usually sell their produce during the “second harvest” in March before the start of the new planting season. Dried Corn usually has moisture between 14 and 17 percent and is generally sold in small lots. Small farmers consider Corn a good investment considering the planting, harvesting, and storage costs.

Serbian Corn Trade

According to the Serbian Grain Fund, Serbia has sufficient Corn for domestic use (about 4.2 MMT). Additionally, with almost 980,000 MT of Corn in stock, it is estimated that Serbia would be able to export 1 MMT of Corn in MY2022/23 (October 2022 – September 2023), which would be the lowest export of Corn since NY2017/18. Due to the Corn export ban, problems with river transportation, and poor quality, exports are expected to decline to about 1 MMT or 33 percent less than in the previous year.

Other sources: USDA

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