U.S. grains: Corn, soy retreat as farm belt heats up

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures drifted lower on Thursday as investors squared positions ahead of government reports on acreage and stocks due on Friday and as improving U.S. Midwest weather boosted crop prospects.

Wheat futures ended mixed as improved harvest weather in the U.S. Plains winter wheat belt offset support from potentially crop-damaging heat in Europe.

Forecasters expect above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation across much of the U.S. farm belt over the next 10 days.

The improved weather was likely to benefit recently sown corn and soybeans following excessive spring rains and flooding that delayed planting and dragged down crop conditions.

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“Plants need sunlight, warmth and water, and they’ve gotten a lot of one but not the others. Now they’re going to be getting some heat and sun,” said Ted Seifried, chief ag market strategist at Zaner Group.

“We could see crop conditions improve significantly over the next two weeks,” he said.

Chicago Board of Trade September corn fell 3-3/4 cents to $4.45-3/4 a bushel, while July soybeans shed 6-1/2 cents to $8.87-3/4 a bushel and broke through chart support at its 100-day moving average (all figures US$).

CBOT September wheat settled 1/4 cent higher at $5.46-3/4 a bushel after earlier hitting a 7-1/2 month high of $5.57-1/4.

Many traders were squaring market positions ahead of Friday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acreage and quarterly stocks reports, before the end of the month and quarter.

Wheat futures were dragged down by forecasts for hotter, drier weather across the southern U.S. Plains, which was likely to accelerate maturity and harvesting of the winter crop.

The improved U.S. weather largely offset concerns about a heatwave in Europe and lower-than-expected plantings in Canada that have supported wheat prices this week.

Statistics Canada pegged wheat plantings at 24.6 million acres, down slightly from last year’s 24.7 million and well below the average trade expectation of 25.7 million acres.

Temperatures in parts of France and Germany reached 40 C, adding to doubts about harvest yields following recent hot, dry weather in top wheat exporter Russia.

Weekly export sales of corn and soy were within the range of trade expectations. Corn sales last week totaled about 405,000 tonnes for shipment in the current and upcoming crop years, while soybean sales were about 487,700 tonnes, USDA said.

Wheat export sales jumped to nearly 612,000 tonnes, topping trade expectations.

Reporting for Reuters by Karl Plume in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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