U.S. grains: Wheat plunges, erasing most of Monday’s rally

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell 3.7 per cent on Thursday, pressured by results from a crop tour that showed yield prospects in Kansas remained above-average despite a severe snow storm, traders said.

A round of profit-taking also pressured wheat prices, which rallied this week to their highest in nearly two months on concerns that the storm had damaged much of the Kansas crop. Thursday’s sell-off erased nearly all the gains made from the surge.

“There was lots of chatter from the tour of bad-looking fields, but when they tallied up the numbers, they did not look so bad, and the market did not like it one bit,” Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED+F Man Capital, said in a note to clients.

Corn futures also closed lower, under pressure from the drop in wheat as well as forecasts for drier weather in key growing areas of the Midwest. The weather outlook bolstered expectations of a pickup in the pace of planting.

“Limited showers/gradual warming through much of next two weeks aid corn seeding progress,” Commodity Weather Group said in a research note.

Soybean futures ended in slightly negative territory, with consolidation trading noted around key technical chart points. Concerns that heavy rains in southern growing areas flooded out some fields that will have to be replanted limited declines in soy.

“U.S. croppers had made good planting progress but there is now a big question mark over how much has been washed away by weekend storms and how quickly farmers can get back in their fields,” said Madeleine Donlan, an analyst at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat futures for July delivery ended down 16-1/4 cents at $4.37-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). K.C. July hard red winter wheat, which tracks the Plains crop, was 18-3/4 cents lower at $4.44-1/2 a bushel.

Wheat yield potential in Kansas was estimated at 46.1 bu./ac., crop scouts on the annual Wheat Quality Council crop tour said on Thursday. That tops the tour’s five-year average for the state.

Much of the crop benefited from ample moisture during the growing season; the extent to which wheat was damaged by snowstorms over the weekend was unknown, the scouts said.

CBOT July corn closed down 8-1/4 cents at $3.66-1/2 a bushel while CBOT July soybeans were one cent lower at $9.78-1/2 a bushel.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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