NAPERVILLE, Illinois, April 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has held vastly differing views on Brazil’s corn and soybean production than its Brazilian counterpart Conab, but now the U.S. agency has taken a mild approach in reducing Argentina’s corn crop while other industry estimates are diving.

USDA on Thursday cut Argentina’s 2023-24 corn harvest to 55 million metric tons from 56 million last month. The trade was expecting 55.6 million, though analysts were polled before this week’s news that corn has sustained “unprecedented” damage from the leafhopper-spread spiroplasma disease.

That prompted Argentina’s Rosario exchange on Wednesday to slash corn production to 50.5 million tons from 57 million previously forecast. The Buenos Aires exchange followed on Thursday by reducing corn output to 49.5 million tons from 52 million previously.

Conab on Thursday reduced 2023-24 Brazilian corn production for a seventh consecutive month to 110.96 million tons from 112.75 in March. However, USDA left its estimate unchanged at 124 million tons. The trade was looking for 121.75 million.

USDA and Conab hold a 13 million-ton difference in Brazil’s corn output, and now USDA has a 5.5 million-ton corn disparity versus the lower Argentine exchange outlook.

This puts USDA at most 18.5 million tons (730 million bushels) higher than other major agencies on combined Argentine and Brazilian corn output. For context, that volume represents 35% of the total U.S. corn exports predicted for 2023-24.

But USDA and Conab have both made sizable cuts to Brazil’s corn crop since the initial estimates. USDA’s latest peg is 3.9% lower than last May’s projection, and Conab’s forecast has come down 7.1% since October. Those are both the biggest percentage reductions over the respective time frames in at least a decade.

USDA and Conab’s disparity over Brazil’s 2023-24 soy crop widened slightly on Thursday with USDA now 5.8% higher than Conab. Argentine soybeans offer the least disagreement, with USDA sitting at 50 million tons for the 2023-24 crop and the Buenos Aires exchange at 51 million.


Thursday offered some mixed news in the corn trade as China may have canceled up to 300,000 tons of Ukrainian corn for shipment in April-May, just one day after reports that Ukraine would ship a combined 1 million tons of corn to China in those two months.

That would be the biggest April-May volume of Ukrainian corn to China since 2020, when 1.675 million tons were shipped, according to LSEG data. It is unclear if the amounts cited on Wednesday and Thursday overlap, but traders say China’s pullback in grain consumption is not specific to Ukrainian supply.

China in its monthly supply and demand report on Thursday upped its 2023-24 corn import forecast to 20 million tons from 17.5 million last month, but suggested those imports may be more front-loaded in the marketing year.

USDA left Ukrainian corn exports unchanged on Thursday, but it increased Ukraine’s 2023-24 wheat exports for a sixth consecutive month, by a total of 59% over that period.

Estimates for Ukraine’s 2023-24 wheat crop rose just 4% in those six months, and the new export target of 17.5 million tons, up from 16 million last month, now officially exceeds the 2022-23 total of 17.1 million tons. Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

(Writing by Karen Braun Editing by Matthew Lewis)