U.S. grains: Corn drops to five-month low on good planting weather

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. corn futures dropped to a five-month low on Friday in a fifth straight losing session on expectations for a rapid advance in corn planting as forecasters expect mostly clear weather across the U.S. Midwest in the coming days.

Soybeans surrendered all of the previous session’s gains as worries abated that a trucker strike could disrupt Brazilian soybean shipments.

Fears that a bird flu outbreak in the U.S. would cut demand for livestock feed weighed on both markets.

Wheat tumbled on spillover pressure from lower corn as well as sluggish demand for U.S. exports and ample global supplies. Technical selling accelerated losses as hard red winter wheat futures hit contract lows.

Chicago Board Of Trade May corn shed 6-1/4 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $3.64-1/2 a bushel, the lowest for a spot month contract since November (all figures US$). The contract’s four per cent weekly decline was the steepest since January.

CBOT May soybeans were down 8-1/2 cents, or one per cent, at $9.69-3/4 a bushel. The contract was up a penny from a week ago.

CBOT May SRW wheat was down 11-3/4 cents, or 2.3 per cent, at $4.86 a bushel, falling for a third straight week. May HRW wheat dropped 14-1/4 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $5.02-1/4 a bushel, with all contract months hitting contract lows.

Weather forecasts suggested relatively dry conditions in the U.S. Midwest next week, which should allow farmers to advance with field work.

“I think we are getting a lot of corn put in the ground,” said Roy Huckabay, grains analyst at The Linn Group. “This spring, everybody was worried about getting started late. Once we get started, we can go like gangbusters.”

Huckabay expected 23 to 24 per cent of the country’s corn crop to be planted by Sunday, a figure the U.S. Department of Agriculture will release in a weekly report on Monday.

Grain markets have also been factoring in a possible loss of some feed demand after avian flu spread to commercial poultry flocks.

Minnesota declared a state of emergency on Thursday over a strain of avian flu that has led to the extermination of more than 7.3 million birds in the country.

Participation in a truckers’ strike in Brazil weakened on Friday, its second day, as the number of blockages on highways fell, according to police.

Concerns that a prolonged strike could disrupt soy shipments at the peak of Brazil’s export season had lifted futures on Thursday.

Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris, Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Julie Ingwersen in Chicago.

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