Ag Export Percentages: A Focus on Corn, Soybeans, and Wheat

U.S. exports can be a key driver for commodity prices. U.S. production of corn, soybean, and wheat exceeds domestic use, making access to export markets crucial. Data from 2018/19 to 2022/23 shows that corn, soybean, and wheat exports are dominated by a few key countries. For corn, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and Ukraine constitute 85% of global exports (Figure 1). For soybeans, Brazil is the largest exporter followed by the United States and Argentina; together, the three countries account for 90% of soybean exports (Figure 2) and 84% of soybean meal exports. Wheat exporting countries are more diversified, with the United States, Russia, the EU, Canada, Australia, Ukraine, and Argentina making up 84% of the market (Figure 3).

In 2022/23 Brazil overtook the United States in corn exports and is expected to remain the largest export competitor to the United States. In the 2022/23 marketing year, Brazilian soybean exports nearly doubled those of the United States, and Brazil is projected to maintain its role as the worlds largest exporter of soybeans. In 2023/24, Brazilian exports are estimated at 50 million metric tons (MMT) of corn and 102 MMT of soybeans. Brazilian export projections for 2024/25 are at 49 MMT of corn and105 MMT of soybeans. In comparison, the United States is estimated to export slightly more corn at 55 MMT and 46 MMT of soybeans in 2023/24. 2024/25 U.S. export projections are at 56 MMT of corn and 50 MMT of soybeans. Wheat export patterns have remained relatively stable, despite geopolitical conflicts affecting some regions. The largest question for 2024/25 wheat exports pertains to Russia, which is experiencing weather-driven yield and quality issues in addition to the war with Ukraine.

Export data is vital for commodity marketing. Weekly, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service reports sales transactions entered into with a buyer outside the United States. In addition to the weekly reporting requirements, daily reports to USDA FAS are required for any export sales activity of quantities totaling 100,000 metric tons or more of one commodity sold in one day to one destination or 200,000 metric tons or more of one commodity sold to one destination during any reporting week. Positive U.S. export bookings support domestic commodity prices. If exports exceed projections or expectations, prices will typically rise, offering a potential opportunity for producer sales. 

Weather events in other major exporting countries, particularly in South America, can signal support for prices and provide opportunities for increased U.S. commodity sales, especially for corn and soybeans. Wheat can be less sensitive to weather as wheat is produced on six continents in both hemispheres, so production is spread throughout the calendar year. Wheat can be strongly influenced by geopolitical and weather events, making it harder to predict specific timing for market changes. 

Exchange rates can also affect exports. The strengthening of the USD, relative to the export competitor’s currency, can make U.S. exports relatively more expensive to an importer. A weakening USD makes U.S. exports more competitive.

The competitiveness and small number of countries in export markets, particularly Brazil and Argentina in corn and soybeans, along with the past relative stability in wheat exports underscores the importance of monitoring both export trends and external factors to optimize commodity marketing strategies.

Figure 1: World Corn Exports by Country, 2018/19-2022/23 Marketing Years Average (%)

Figure 2: Soybean Exports by Country, 2018/19-2022/23 Marketing Year Average (%)

Figure 3: World Wheat Exports by Country, 2018/19-2022/23 Marketing Year Average (%)


USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Production, Supply and Distribution.

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Export Sales Reporting Program. and

Gardner, Grant. “Ag Export Percentages: A Focus on Corn, Soybeans, and Wheat.Southern Ag Today 4(24.1). June 10, 2024. Permalink