Global output of maize in the current season would be smaller than last year as farmers in the US, the biggest grower, cut planting, the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) said yesterday.

Farmers worldwide would harvest 967 million tons of maize in the 2014/15 season, down 4.1 percent from a record 1.008 billion tons the prior year, Amis said in an online report.

The Rome-based agency was set up by the Group of 20 members.

Global wheat production was estimated at 702 million tons, down 1.8 percent from the prior year, while rice output was projected to increase 0.8 percent to 501 million tons, Amis said.

Maize prices have rallied 22 percent this year on the Chicago Board of Trade on expectations that US farmers would cut acreage in favour of higher-priced soya beans. Prices were supported by mounting concern that tension between Ukraine and Russia would disrupt supplies from the Black Sea region. Ukraine is the third-biggest maize exporter.

“Expectations are that the US will have a decline from last year’s bumper situation,” Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, said. “Ukraine also is such an important player in the [maize] market of late, so how much Ukraine will produce will depend on many things including credit and imported seeds.”

Amis did not release 2014/15 soya bean figures yesterday, and pegged 2013/14 output at 281 million tons worldwide.

Wheat production would be lower than last year mostly because of reduced output in Canada, Amis said. Stockpiles at the end of the 2014/15 season would still be 1.1 percent higher than a year earlier at 180 million tons, it said.

Ending stockpiles of rice would be 180 million tons, down 0.6 percent from the prior season, Amis said. Global inventories of maize at the end of the 2014/15 season might drop to 162 million tons from 170 million tons. – Bloomberg