Chinese Hunger for Corn Stretches Farm Belt

China's struggle to meet the growing demands of its middle class is fueling a sudden surge in demand for corn, sending vast ripples across the U.S. farm belt and potentially upending the grain's trade flows around the world.

China's need for cornówhich forms the basis of sweeteners, starch and alcohol as well as feed for livestockówas on stark display in July when the nation ordered 21 million bushels of U.S. corn in one hit, more than the U.S. government thought the country would buy in a year. The purchase surprised the market and came as an intense July heat wave was shrinking the potential size of the Midwest crop. ,,,,,,China bought another 2.2 million bushels of U.S. corn early this month...Worth about $ 16,500,000.00....

Worth about $ 157,575,000.00...Or About two Years of Total US Corn Production

....,.Total U.S, corn production for 2010 is estimated at 12.4 billion bushels,

Corn prices, which have nearly doubled over the past year, climbed another 1% Tuesday. The corn futures contract for December delivery at the Chicago Board of Trade rose 7.5 cents to settle at $7.275 a bushel.

China's influence on corn demand underlines how its fast-growing economy is reshaping global commerce. The nation, with its growing population of 1.3 billion people, has been a major player in commodities markets in recent years.