U.S. grains: Corn, soy, wheat rise as crop belt heats up

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and wheat futures rose more than two per cent on Monday, with corn setting a one-year high on worries about forecasts for potentially stressful heat in parts of the Midwest.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures climbed nearly three per cent, led by outlooks for more hot and dry weather in the northern Plains spring wheat region.

CBOT September corn futures settled up 9-1/2 cents at $4.02 per bushel, with new-crop December corn up 10 cents at $4.14-3/4 after reaching $4.15, its highest since June 2016 (all figures US$).

CBOT August soybeans rose 23-3/4 cents at $10.24-3/4 after setting a four-month high at $10.29-1/2.

CBOT September wheat ended up 15 cents at $5.50 a bushel while Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) September spring wheat rose 30-3/4 cents at $7.97-1/2 a bushel.

Corn and soybeans firmed on fears that rising temperatures this week and dry conditions in parts of the western Midwest could curb yield prospects. Corn in the heart of the Midwest is particularly vulnerable to weather stress this month during pollination, its key reproductive phase.

Based on historical trends, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in May projected the 2017 U.S. corn yield at 170.7 bushels per acre. But some analysts think this season’s yield ultimately could fall short.

“It is possible that we could stress the crop enough to produce a sub-160 bushel per acre crop,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman said in a note to clients.

USDA is scheduled to release updated monthly supply/demand reports on Wednesday, although typically the government waits until August to revise its corn and soy yield forecasts.

After the CBOT close, the USDA rated 65 per cent of the U.S. corn crop in good to excellent condition, down from 68 per cent the previous week. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected a drop of one percentage point.

USDA also lowered its condition ratings for soybeans and spring wheat.

Traders appeared to be covering short positions in corn and soy. Weekly commitments data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Friday showed speculators held larger-than-expected short positions, Suderman said, leaving those markets vulnerable to bouts short-covering.

MGEX spring wheat futures led CBOT wheat higher on forecasts for more sizzling temperatures in the northern U.S. Plains.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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