The U.S. Grain Council's 2007 China Corn Tour has been underway for the past three weeks with teams touring fields in nine different provinces. Todd Meyer, USGC senior director in Beijing, says the purpose of the tour is to gather information that will help with the decision whether to accept or reject the official numbers and make sense of the price movements.
"We would love to put an accurate number on the crop, but that's way beyond our abilities," Meyer says. "We do a very cursory tour, but we do get in the fields, and we do some kernel counts, ear counts and population counts so that we can really try to get a handle on what's happening and compare that to what we're hearing from other sources."
Meyer says it's only one piece of the puzzle that we try to use to help figure out what China will do, if they will export, if there is opportunity for imports and where the price will be.
"We haven't come up with any particular number yet," Meyer says. The teams are meeting today to come up with their estimate but Meyer says the specific number will be pretty rough with a lot of potential for error.
"We're really just trying to get some kind of relative direction for the crop, that’s the main thing," Meyer says. "Is it up, is it down, is it up a lot, or is it down a lot, or just a little. That's more or less what we're trying to do with this."
According to Meyer there is already reports ranging from an increase of four to five million tons to a decrease of eight million tons or more.
"From what we have seen I would tend to believe it will be below last year, perhaps by a significant amount," Meyer says. "In the regions we have traveled to, there's nothing exceptional; most of the regions have an average crop, with several important regions having a drop of significant size."