May 22, 2022

U.S. Grains Council: Corn quality documented for potential buyers

WASHINGTON — Favorable growing season conditions for the 2021 crop likely benefited the high quality of corn at export terminals, according to the U.S. Grains Council Corn Export Cargo Quality Report.

The average quality of corn samples tested for the report was better than or equal to U.S. No. 2 on all grade factors with higher test weight and whole kernels and lower stress cracks than the 2020-2021 export samples.

The export cargo quality report is a companion to the 2021-2022 Corn Harvest Quality Report that provides information about the quality of the most recent U.S. corn crop at harvest as it enters the international merchandising channels.

Both reports provide reliable information on U.S. corn quality from the farm to the customer based on transparent and consistent methodology, offering an early view of grading factors established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The reports identify any noticeable changes occurring between these two time periods.

“As foreign buyers decide what their purchasing contracts will look like and determine what their corn for feed, food and industrial uses may be, clearly understanding this year’s corn quality information is vitally important,” said Chad Willis, USGC chairman.

“This report, along with its companion, the Corn Harvest Quality Report, allows stakeholders to see how this year’s exports compare with previous years so they can make informed purchasing decisions.”

USGC will roll out the new results in a series of crop quality seminars around the world. The first seminar was held in North Asia — South Korea, Japan and Taiwan — on April 26, and more are planned in Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia in May.

These outreach activities help establish clear expectations with buyers and end-users regarding the quality of corn this marketing year.

“To help fulfill this mission, the council offers this report as a service to our partners as part of its mission to develop markets, enable trade and improve lives,” Willis said.

“Developing a report of this scope and breadth in a timely manner allows us to do our part in furthering global food security and mutual economic benefit while assisting our valued trading partners in making well-informed decisions about the crop they are considering.”


This Export Cargo Report is based on 430 yellow commodity corn samples collected from corn export shipments as they underwent the federal inspection and grading processes performed by the Federal Grain Inspection Service or licensed inspectors at interior offices.

The sample test results are reported at the U.S. aggregate level and by export points associated with three general regions, which are labeled Export Catchment Areas. These three ECAs are identified by the three major pathways to export markets — Gulf, Pacific Northwest and Southern Rail.


Here are some of the report’s sample findings as the corn entered the export market:

• The average test weight of 58 pounds per bushel was higher than 2020-2021 and the five-year average, indicating overall good quality. Most of the samples — 99.8% — tested at or above the limit for U.S. No. 1 grade compared to 92.7% of the samples in 2020-2021.

• Broken corn and foreign material average at 2.8% was the same as 2020-2021, similar to the five-year average and lower than the maximum limit for U.S. No. 2 grade. BCFM predictably increased from 0.7% to 2.8% as the crop moved from harvest through the marketing channel to export.

• Total damage at export, at 3.1%, was higher than 2020-2021 and the five-year average. Most of the samples — 81.2% — were at or below the limit for U.S. No. 2 grade.

• There was no heat damage in the samples, the same as a year ago and the five-year average, indicating good management of drying and storage of corn throughout the marketing channel.

• U.S. aggregate protein concentration at export averaged 8.6%, higher than 2020-2021 at 8.4%, 2019-2020 at 8.3%, the five-year and 10-year averages of 8.5% and the 2021 harvest average of 8.4%.

• Average U.S. aggregate starch concentration, at 72%, was lower than 2020-2021, at 72.1%; 2019-2020 and the five-year average, both 72.2%; the 10-year average, 73%; and the average U.S. aggregate concentration for the 2021 harvest, 72.2%.

• U.S. aggregate oil concentration average of 3.9% was higher than 2020-2021, but lower than 2019-2020 and the five-year average, both 4%, but same as the 10-year average, 3.9%.

• The standard deviations for protein, starch and oil concentrations were lower in the export samples than in the harvest samples.

• Stress cracks averaged 8.4% and were lower than last year, but similar to the five-year average. The majority of the export samples — 85.8% — had less than 15% stress cracks.

• Of the 182 samples tested for aflatoxin, all but two of the samples tested below the Food and Drug Administration action level of 20 parts per billion. A total of 97.3% of the export samples had levels of aflatoxin below the Federal Grain Inspection Service “Lower Conformance Limit” of 5 ppb in 2021-2022, a similar proportion to 2020-2021, at 98.3%.

• All of the samples tested below the 5 ppm FDA advisory level for deoxynivalenol, the same as 2020-2021. Of the 182 samples tested for DON in 2021-2022, 100% showed levels of DON below 1.5 ppm, a higher proportion than in 2020-2021, at 95.6%.

• All 182 samples tested below the FDA’s strictest guidance level for fumonisin of 5 ppm.

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor