Following its annual crop tour of China, the U.S. Grains Council released an estimate of China’s 2011 corn production, pegging the country’s crop at 6.6 billion bushels, up 5.6 percent from last year.

Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board, participated in this year’s crop tour, which wrapped up last week.

“The 2011 corn crop I witnessed in China was far more impressive than I expected,” he said. “They have little, if any, crop loss and average yields are expected to be in the mid 80 bushel per acre range.”

Hutchens noted, however, that trying to figure out where China is heading from both an economic sense and in agriculture production is difficult.

“When you look at China you see a country that seems to be in the driver’s seat economically. Yet it has to feed 1.2 billion people and is harvesting 80 percent of its corn crop by hand and transporting it via small carts and wagons.

“Meanwhile, more skyscrapers are going up and it’s the No. 1 market for Lamborghinis. In taking it all in, it’s an enigma and you quickly realize that no one really knows what the ripple effect of China will be,” he said.