The U.S. ag attache in China has trimmed its forecast for 2012-13 soybean imports by 3.5 MMT to 59.5 MMT to reflect a decline in use due to bird flu and a surge in intentional prices. But the attache raised its 2013-14 import forecast by 2 MMT to 67.5 MMT in response to escalating growth in soybean meal use and edible oil consumption. These estimates differ from USDA's current import projections of 59.0 MMT for 2012-13 and 69.0 MMT in 2013-14. The attache expects imports of U.S. soybeans to grow from 21 MMT in 2012-13 to 23 MMT in 2013-14.
USDA currently projects planted soybean acres in China for 2013-14 at 7.7 million hectares, but the attache expects area to remain steady with last year at 6.8 million. Regarding planting conditions, the attache says, "Cold and wet planting conditions delayed soybean planting 10 to 15 days in the northeast provinces. Average April temperatures registered 1.9 C° lower across all major soybean-producing regions, according to China’s meteorological data, with northeast provinces 4 C° below average, Jilin, 3.8 C° below and Heilongjiang 2.8 C° below average. Above-average rainfall in March and April also impacted planting in major production areas such as Heilongjiang (up 60 percent) and Inner Mongolia, Jilin and Liaoning (with April rainfall 100 percent, 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively, above average)."
"In late April, though, conditions improved and normal planting resumed as above-average temperatures in the second half of May reduced excess soil moisture. The late-May planting caused farmers in some regions to miss the planting window to substitute corn for soybean acreage which helped stabilize soybean planting area this year," states the report.