U.S. grains: Corn seesaws, soy rises on planting uncertainty

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures veered between gains and losses while soybean futures rose on Monday as planting delays fueled uncertainty over the size of the nation’s crops.

Heavy rains delayed plantings the spring and traders remain unsure about how many acres of corn and soy will actually be planted and how much the harvests will yield.

Corn seeding is normally complete by this point in the season. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a weekly crop report, said planting was 83 per cent complete, up from 67 per cent a week ago. The agency rated 59 per cent of the crop as good to excellent, down from 77 per cent a year ago.

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Soybeans, which are usually planted later than corn, were 60 per cent planted. That was up from 39 per cent a week earlier and below the average for 88 per cent.

Some farmers said they had given up on trying to plant corn because rain delays left them with little hope of producing big yields. Corn that is planted late in the season can suffer if there is a frost before harvest.

“Regardless of rain or no rain, not many guys are going to plant corn after the 10th of June,” said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading in Indiana.

Other farmers were continuing efforts to put the crop in the ground. U.S. weather firm Maxar said dry weather across the heart of the corn belt was favourable for planting still to be done.

“We’re really not ready to call it done here,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Illinois-based broker Allendale.

The most actively traded corn contract ended flat at $4.15-3/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade (all figures US$).

The most-active soybean contract rose 0.4 per cent to $8.58-1/2 a bushel. CBOT’s most-active wheat contract gained 0.5 per cent to $5.07-1/2 a bushel.

USDA on Tuesday is expected to trim its estimates for corn and soybean yields in its monthly supply and demand report. However, some traders said the cuts will likely be too small to reflect the full impact of late planting.

Concerns about the size of the U.S. crops are a turnaround after farmers produced massive harvests over the past five years. The large supplies and a slowdown in export demand linked to the trade war with China weighed on prices before U.S. planting delays emerged.

On Tuesday, traders will also look for the results of a wheat tender from Egypt, the world’s top importer of the grain.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London.

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