Corn Export Cargo Quality Report 2012/2013


The quality of the corn assembled for export early in the 2012/13 marketing year, was even better than that of the previous year, despite the challenging climatic conditions of the 2012 growing season. All grade factors were at or better than 2011/12, with the exception of total damage. Moisture content was also lower. All chemical and physical attributes also showed improvement over the previous marketing year, with the exception of slightly lower starch content reflecting the higher protein and oil contents. Notable quality attributes of the 2012/13 U.S. Aggregate export samples include:

  • Grade factors (test weight, BCFM, total damage, and heat damage) on most sublot samples were at or better than the U.S. grade limits.
  • Average test weight (58.1 lb/bu, 74.8 kg/hl) was significantly higher in 2012/13 than in 2011/12 and was above the grade limit for U.S. No. 1 corn in 96.9% of the samples. Test weight was lower at export than at harvest (58.8 lb/bu).
  • BCFM (2.7%) was below the maximum limit for U.S. No. 2. and below that of 2011/12 (3.0%). BCFM predictably increased as the crop moved through the market channel.
  • Total damage (2.0%) increased during storage and transport as expected and was slightly higher at export than in 2011/12. Total damage was the only grade factor showing major differences among ECAs with the Pacific Northwest (0.6%), noticeably below the U.S. Aggregate (2.0%).
  • Average moisture levels were lower, and moisture variability among sublots was greater in 2012/13 than in 2011/12. More than 80% of the 2012/13 samples were at or below 14.5% moisture. Average moisture at harvest (15.3%) was lowered to 14.2% at export due to drying and conditioning in the market channel.
  • Protein content in 2012/13 (9.2% dry basis) was significantly higher than in 2011/12 (8.7%). The increased protein was likely an effect of the 2012 drought in many parts of the Corn Belt.
  • Starch content (73.5% dry basis) usually varies inversely with protein and was lower in 2012/13 than in 2011/12 (74.1%).
  • Oil content (3.7% dry basis) was 0.1 percentage point above the 2011/12 samples.
  • Low levels of stress cracks (9%) and relatively high percent of whole kernels (89.9%) indicate potential for reduced breakage when corn is handled, improved wet milling starch recovery, improved dry milling yields of flaking grits, and good alkaline processability. These levels were an improvement over 2011/12 (10% and 87.5% respectively).
  • The kernel volumes and 100-kernel weights were higher in 2012/13 than in 2011/12, indicating slightly larger kernel sizes in 2012/13.
  • Like test weight, kernel true densities (1.297 g/ cm3) were significantly higher in 2012/13 than in 2011/12.
  • Whole kernels for 2012/13 (89.9%) were significantly higher than for 2011/12.
  • Approximately 53% of the samples had horneous (hard) endosperm equal to or greater than 85% in 2012/13 compared to 40.4% in 2011/12, indicating harder corn. This moderate increase in hardness should be desirable for dry millers, but the corn should still be well suited to the requirements of wet millers and feeders. The moderate increases found in kernel hardness, true density and test weight appear consistent with and may, in part, be explained by the higher protein contents found in 2012 corn crop.
  • All of the sublot samples tested below the FDA action level of 20 ppb for aflatoxins and the FDA advisory levels for DON (10 ppm for chicken and cattle, and 5 ppm for hogs and other animals).

In summary, corn at export early in the 2012/13 marketing year had higher test weight, lower BCFM, lower moisture, higher protein and oil, lower stress cracks, higher density, more whole kernels, and more horneous endosperm than the export corn in 2011/12. In addition, uniformity of the quality attributes generally increased as the corn moved through the market channel. These outcomes are all indicative of corn cargoes that should perform well in terms of retaining quality during transit.