U.S. grains: Corn nears one-year high on adverse weather

A close-up of emerging corn seedlings north of London, Ont. on May 24, 2016. (Ralph Pearce photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. spot corn futures hit a near one-year high on Wednesday on forecasts for potentially stressful crop weather in the Midwest, while Minneapolis spring wheat futures retreated from a near two-year high.

Soybeans followed corn higher.

The weather jitters come as commodity funds hold large net short positions in corn, wheat and soybeans, leaving the markets vulnerable to bouts of short-covering.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn settled up 7-1/2 cents at $3.84-3/4 per bushel after reaching $3.87, the highest spot price on a continuous chart since June 29, 2016 (all figures US$).

Trading volume in CBOT corn appeared to hit an all-time high, topping more than one million contracts, preliminary CME Group data indicated.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat rose nine cents at $4.44-3/4 a bushel. But front-month MGEX spring wheat ended down 3-1/4 cents at $5.95-1/2 after reaching $6.04-1/2, the highest since July 2015.

CBOT July soybeans finished up 7-1/4 cents at $9.30-3/4 a bushel.

Even with a profit-taking setback in spring wheat, hot and dry weather in the northern U.S. Plains and northern Midwest remained the feature. Temperatures were expected to top 90 F (32 C) in both regions this weekend.

“Both the Midwest and the northern Plains should see some relief next week. The issue is that ahead of that, we are going to get really, really warm,” said Don Keeney, an agricultural meteorologist with MDA Weather Services.

The U.S. corn crop is still a few weeks from its key pollination phase, which usually occurs in July. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday rated 68 per cent of the corn crop in good to excellent condition, up from 65 per cent a week earlier, but the figure was down from 75 per cent a year ago.

“You have a crop that’s not off to a good start and needs moisture, not hot and dry conditions,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities.

Traders anticipated farmer sales of old-crop corn as CBOT July corn pushed through $3.80, the top of a trading range that had persisted for several months.

The CBOT December corn contract, representing the just-planted new crop, hit resistance at $4.04, likely due to farmers booking sales.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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