China’s Corn Harvest Set for Smaller Increase on Pest Attack

China, the second-biggest corn grower, may have a smaller increase in its crop than expected this year because of damage from armyworms, the China National Grain & Oils Information Center said. Imports may still decline.

The harvest is set to total 197 million metric tons, 500,000 tons less than forecast a month ago and a gain of 2.2 percent from last year, the state-owned researcher said in a report today. Imports will probably be 3 million tons, it said.

The worst armyworm outbreak in 10 years hit more than 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres) by Aug. 14, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its website yesterday. A 60-day campaign has begun to curb its spread, it said. The nation planted 34.3 million hectares of corn this year, said the grain center.

The “outbreak poses further downside risk to our supply forecasts,” analysts led by Janet Kong of China International Capital Corp. wrote in a report, which estimated a loss of 1.5 million tons from pests and about 400,000 tons from flooding.

Domestic corn stockpiles “remain abundant,” Kong said, keeping an import estimate of 4 million tons in the year starting Oct. 1. The bank last week cut a previous estimate of 5 million tons, citing rising prices and an increased harvest. Beijing-based China International Capital, commonly known as CICC, is the country’s biggest investment bank.