U.S. grains: Wheat wanes as rain expected on Plains

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures fell more than four per cent on Monday to the lowest in two weeks as forecasts for timely showers across dry U.S. crop regions eased concern over potential yield losses.

Corn followed wheat lower, while soybeans fell on rising global stockpiles.

At the CBOT, May wheat settled down 24-1/4 cents at $5.02-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). May corn fell 6-1/2 cents to $3.70-1/2 a bushel and May soybeans ended down 2-3/4 cents at $9.48-3/4 a bushel.

Kansas City hard red winter wheat futures <0#KW:> posted large declines, with the May contract at one point falling more than 30 cents a bushel to notch a one-month low of $5.27.

Hard red winter wheat, the largest U.S. wheat class, is grown in the southern Plains, and top states such as Kansas and Oklahoma have endured persistent drought. Values fell after weekend showers crossed portions of the belt, and forecasts called for heavier accumulations later this week.

“The wheat market is all about better rain than expected in the central and southern Plains, and short-term forecasts for more,” said Tom Fritz, a partner with EFG Group in Chicago.

After the close, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 42 per cent of the U.S. winter wheat crop as good to excellent in a weekly report, down from 44 per cent a week earlier.

In Kansas, topsoil moisture was short or very short across 56 per cent of the state, USDA said.

Corn futures fell in sympathy with wheat and on rains in the Midwest, where planting is starting. USDA said farmers had seeded two per cent of the U.S. crop by Sunday, behind the five-year average of five per cent. Analysts expected progress at 3.5 per cent.

“The rain is more a benefit than a detriment. We are keeping these soils charged with moisture, and that’s just what we need going into the growing season,” said Shawn McCambridge with Jefferies Bache in Chicago.

CBOT soybeans fell after seesaw trade, weighed by softening domestic cash soymeal values and rising global soy supplies as the South American harvest progresses.

Soyoil retreated at the closing bell but traded higher for most of the day on Friday’s news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose draft biofuel use targets for 2015 by June 1.

Julie Ingwersen is a Retuers correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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