U.S. grains: Corn prices stumble on hopes for better U.S. harvest conditions

Chicago | Reuters – U.S. corn futures slipped on Thursday on expectations that weather conditions may turn more favorable for harvesting, giving a small break to soggy fields and farmers, traders said.

Drier weather across the U.S. corn belt from Friday through much of next week should allow growers to make better progress after rain, snow and cold temperatures caused delays, according to weather firm Maxar. Harvests were already behind schedule because heavy rains and historic floods interrupted plantings this spring.

October likely marked the 15th straight month in which precipitation was greater than the long-term average in the Midwest, where the majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are grown.

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Farmers are now eager to bring their corn and soybeans in from the fields to avoid potential damage. They also want to know the size and quality of their late-planted crops.

“They’re looking at a more active harvest pace,” said Jim Gerlach, president of broker AC Trading in Indiana.

The most actively traded corn futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade slipped 0.3 percent to $3.90 a bushel/ CBOT wheat futures slid 0.5 percent to $5.08-3/4 a bushel after nearing a three-week low of $5.01, and soybeans rose 0.1 percent to $9.32-1/4 a bushel.

Soybean traders continued to monitor news on the U.S.-China trade war, which has hurt American exports of the oilseed and other farm products. China is the world’s biggest soybean importer and bought $12 billion worth of the crop from the United States in 2017, before the dispute.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said China could buy as much as $50 billion of U.S. farm products as part of an interim trade deal. But the demand has become a major sticking point in talks to end the trade war, according to several people briefed on the negotiations.

“Both sides claim talks are ongoing and progress is still being made, but trade is no longer interested in proposals, and wants to see actual sales rather than projections,” said Karl Setzer, commodity risk analyst for AgriVisor.

Beijing could remove extra tariffs imposed since last year on U.S. farm products to ease the way for importers to buy up to $50 billion worth, said the head of a government-backed trade association in China.

China purchased 481,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans in the week ended Oct. 24 and shipped more than half a million tonnes, the most since August, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

– Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Colin Packham in Sydney

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