U.S. exporters sold 115,000 metric tons of corn to China, its first major sale of the grain to the world’s most-populous nation since 2001, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

The corn is for delivery in the year that ends on Aug. 31, the USDA said today in a statement. The department, which discloses all export-sales activity involving more than 100,000 tons of a commodity in a single day, last reported a major Chinese corn sale on Dec. 11, 2001, a purchase that was later canceled.

Snow and cold weather has delayed corn planting in parts of northeast China, the agriculture ministry said yesterday. The China National Grain and Oils Information Center last week said the Asian nation may increase imports should international prices remain below domestic levels.

“China’s weather has been a little cool, so they’re behind on planting,” said Jerod Leman, a broker at Wellington Commodities in Carmel, Indiana. The sale is “a big story” for corn prices, he said.

Corn futures for July delivery rose 10.50 cents, or 3 percent, to $3.6425 a bushel at 11:19 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Before today, the price was down 15 percent this year, partly because of rising stockpiles in the U.S.

China, the second-largest corn producer, will harvest 155 million tons of the grain, down from a record 165.9 million a year ago, the USDA said in a report April 9. Inventories before this year’s harvest will reach 49.12 million tons, down from 53.17 million a year earlier, the USDA said.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest grower and exporter of corn.

July corn prices finished up 10.25 cents to $3.64 a bushel on Wednesday.