U.S. grains: Wheat hits one-week low as weather improves

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell about two per cent to a one-week low on Monday, and corn and soybeans also declined on prospects for improving crop weather in the Midwest and Plains, analysts said.

“The weather is getting better. The fact that we don’t have a very threatening forecast is why we are under pressure,” said Ted Seifried, chief market strategist with the Zaner Group in Chicago.

The Chicago Board of Trade July wheat contract settled down 8-3/4 cents at $4.33-1/2 per bushel after dipping to $4.32-3/4, its lowest since April 28 (all figures US$).

CBOT July corn ended down 4-3/4 cents at $3.66 a bushel and July soybeans fell 8-1/4 cents at $9.64-3/4 a bushel.

After the CBOT close, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report rated 53 per cent of the U.S. winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition. The figure was down from 54 per cent the previous week, but above an average of analyst expectations for 51 per cent.

Traders focused on outlooks for improving conditions in the coming days.

“Showers lingered in the eastern Midwest early this past weekend but drier conditions were welcomed across the central and western Midwest, Delta, and Plains. This allowed wetness concerns to ease a bit,” MDA Weather Services said in a note to clients.

Growers are still planting spring crops, including corn and soybeans. USDA said the U.S. corn crop was 47 per cent planted as of Sunday, behind the five-year average of 52 per cent but ahead of an average of analyst estimates for 44 per cent.

USDA said the U.S. soybean crop was 14 per cent planted, lagging the five-year average of 17 per cent.

More storms are expected late next week.

“Farmers are pushing around the clock to get their crops planted ahead of this widespread rain event. The good news is that most should be able to get the bulk of the corn planted ahead of these rains,” INTL FCStone chief commodities analyst Arlan Suderman said in a note to clients.

Traders were also adjusting positions ahead of USDA’s monthly supply/demand report on Wednesday, which will include the government’s first official production and usage estimates for corn and soybeans in the 2017-18 marketing year.

CBOT soybean futures drew underlying support from strong demand from China. Soybean imports to China in April rose 13.4 per cent from a year ago, supported by strong demand from the soymeal industry, data from the General Administration of Customs of China showed.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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