U.S. grains: Corn firms as rains stall planting

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures firmed on Monday, hitting the highest point in a week as wet weather across much of the U.S. Midwest and forecasts for continued rains this week threatened to prolong spring planting delays.

Soybeans were lower on sluggish U.S. exports, abundant global supplies and worries that delayed corn seeding could shift more acres to later-planted beans.

Wheat slumped under pressure from ample world supplies and crop-friendly weather in key growing areas, including the southern U.S. Plains where crops planted last autumn will be harvested in the coming months.

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Wet weather on Monday across a large swathe of the central U.S. following weekend rain and snow in some areas has sidelined many farmers who have been eager to begin spring planting.

“We’ve got some sluggish planting progress, especially in the eastern Corn Belt,” said Brian Basting, analyst with Advance Trading in Bloomington, Illinois.

“It’s a little premature to start talking about switching from corn to beans, but it certainly becomes more critical as we turn the calendar to May,” he said.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect U.S. corn planting to be just 14 per cent complete as of Sunday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to release its weekly crop progress report later on Monday.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn was 1/2 cent higher at $3.61-3/4 a bushel after notching contract lows in four straight sessions last week (all figures US$).

CBOT July soybeans fell to a contract low and ended down 6-1/2 cents at $8.60-3/4 a bushel.

Record-large short holdings by large speculators limited further declines in grains and soy as markets remain susceptible to bouts of short covering.

Losses in soybeans were limited at times by hopes for a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade talks, which could help bolster sluggish U.S. exports and whittle down massive stocks of the oilseed. However, global stocks remain plentiful as South American farmers are harvesting bumper crops.

Brazil’s 2018-19 soybean crop is poised to be the second-largest on record, a Reuters poll showed.

Largely beneficial crop weather in the southern U.S. Plains hard wheat belt and key wheat production areas around the globe dragged most U.S. wheat futures contracts to fresh life-of-contract lows.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat settled down 7-1/4 cents at $4.35-1/4 a bushel, while July hard red winter wheat ended down 10-1/2 cents at $3.97. July spring wheat futures fell 4-1/4 cents to $5.07-1/2 a bushel despite rain-stalled planting.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.


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