U.S. grains: Corn touches one-year high on slow U.S. planting

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures climbed for a seventh session to their highest in a year on Tuesday as rainy weather and soggy fields across the U.S. corn belt stalled spring planting.

Wheat also advanced on worries about winter crop damage due to heavy rains and flooding in the southern U.S. Plains.

Soybeans turned lower after a report that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may soon announce a trade-war aid package for farmers that could boost soybean plantings and possibly further swell record-large stocks of the oilseed.

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A weekly USDA crop progress report late on Monday said U.S. corn and soybean plantings were progressing even more slowly than had been feared.

USDA said a lower-than-expected 49 per cent of the U.S. corn crop has been planted, the slowest pace on record, based on data going back to 1980. Soybeans were 19 per cent planted, also short of market expectations.

“Crop progress came in slightly below expectations for corn and below expectations for soybeans, and the big weather event overnight and today is still having a positive influence on wheat,” said Ted Seifried, chief agriculture market strategist with Zaner Group.

Prices, however, have retreated from session highs on technical selling and profit taking following recent strong gains.

Corn’s seven-session rally, which has taken prices up more than 10 per cent, may prompt U.S. farmers to plant corn later in the spring despite potential yield declines and reduced insurance coverage for fields sown after local planting deadlines.

“The economics of this crop have changed dramatically in the last eight days, which makes it more difficult to imagine some of these massive prevented planting acreage numbers that some people have been talking about,” Seifried said.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) July corn ended up 5-1/4 cents at $3.94-1/4 per bushel after peaking at $3.99, the highest point for a most active contract since May 29, 2018 (all figures US$).

July soybeans fell 9-3/4 cents to $8.22 a bushel, shedding earlier gains after a report that farmers may be paid $2 per bushel to offset losses from the U.S.-China trade war.

“That is a pretty enticing carrot, and that tells me that they are going to try to get as many bean acres in as possible, at the expense of corn,” said Matt Connelly, analyst with The Hightower Report.

CBOT July wheat was 1/2 cent higher at $4.78-3/4 a bushel after peaking at $4.92-3/4, the highest since Feb. 25.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago and Michael Hogan in Hamburg.

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