Raw materials: “The golden ear of corn harvests the laurels”

DIn the fields, the combines are playing overtime. There are still many of them crisscrossing the countryside and spitting out, in a continuous stream, a flood of corn kernels. In the trailers, the cargoes of a beautiful orange-yellow stand out against the autumn sky. In mid-November, the harvest is not yet complete, marked by a delay of ten to fifteen days, but morale is high.

Record yields, high prices: the alignment of the planets has rarely been more favorable. In its forecast, published Tuesday, November 9, the Ministry of Agriculture expects French maize production of 14.8 million tonnes in 2021, up 9% compared to 2020. Especially, as Thomas Joly points out, from the Arvalis institute, “We are moving towards a record yield of 11 tonnes of grain per hectare, compared to the previous record of 10.7 tonnes, reached in 2011”.

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In the small agricultural theater, the golden ear of corn harvests the laurels. Do not seek in this performance the contribution of “mega-basins” – water reserves, sources of stormy relations between the FNSEA, promoter of these projects, and the Confédération paysanne, eager to dry them up. The stake is not irrigation as such, but the origin of the precious liquid. Pumping from groundwater or collecting rainwater? The debate is making waves.

Chinese bulimia

This year, the rain watered the corn plants at the most opportune times, during their growth, their flowering or during the growth of the grain. An ideal water cocktail. As a result, the so-called dry corn and its irrigated counterpart almost arrived at harvest on an equal footing. A shot of corn on the cob in the water …

It remains to transform the mountain of grains into hard currency. Here again, the heavens are merciful. “On Euronext, corn is trading at 245 euros per tonne, compared to 190 euros per tonne a year ago”, notes Arthur Portier, of the Agritel firm. Drought and frost have caused nearly 14 million tonnes of grain to go up in smoke in Brazil for its second annual harvest. Even if the attics are better stocked in the United States and Ukraine. However, the pressure has mounted a notch on the markets. Especially since China is still showing bulimia.

Corn and wheat have a linked destiny. However, wheat is trading at highs, approaching 290 euros per tonne on Euronext

“Chinese corn imports have increased from 7.6 million tonnes in 2019 to 29.5 million tonnes in 2020. They are expected to reach another 26 million tonnes this year. », Explains Mr. Portier. The price of corn is also on the grill following the resumption of ethanol consumption in the United States, but also in Europe. An agrofuel, the price of which benefits from the surge in that of a barrel of black gold.

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Raw materials: “The golden ear of corn harvests the laurels”