February 23, 2018 / 4:04 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-China Jan sorghum imports hit 560,000 T, highest in six months -customs

* Jan sorghum imports up more than 250 pct vs Dec

* Probe into imports of U.S. sorghum announced in Feb

* Jan corn imports down vs Dec arrivals

* Sugar imports lowest monthly volume since Aug 2014 (Recasts, adds detail)

BEIJING, Feb 23 (Reuters) - China, the world’s top sorghum buyer, imported 560,000 tonnes of the grain in January, more than three times the previous month’s volume, as buyers snapped up the feed ingredient amid healthy demand from expanding livestock farms.

The arrivals, the largest since July according to customs data released on Friday, came just ahead of an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation launched by Beijing this month into sorghum imports from the United States.

Market watchers expect that action to sharply curb purchases of the grain when the latest crop reaches the market this summer.

China also bought 390,000 tonnes of corn, a jump of 147 percent year on year, but down from December’s arrivals of 450,000 tonnes.

Year-on-year numbers may be skewed by China’s Lunar New Year holiday which fell in January in 2017, but in February this year.

Demand for overseas corn CO-CN-IMP has increased in recent months following a rally in domestic prices that made imports more attractive.

Some corn purchases have, however, been cancelled recently because of concerns over tighter controls on genetically modified strains of the grain.

Still, China’s agriculture ministry recently raised its forecast for 2017/18 corn imports to 1.5 million tonnes, because of the expected reduction in sorghum shipments following the anti-dumping probe. Sorghum is considered an alternative to corn.

China also imported 30,000 tonnes of sugar in January, the lowest monthly volume since August, 2014, the customs data showed, after hefty tariffs imposed last year continued to curb buying.

The volumes were down by 92.5 percent on the same month in 2017 and down 77 percent on December’s level. SU-CN-IMP

Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Joseph Radford and Kenneth Maxwell

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