U.S. grains: Spring wheat falls sharply as flood concerns ease

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. spring wheat futures fell 1.3 per cent to their lowest in nearly nine months on Wednesday as the latest weather forecasts eased fears about flooding in the northern U.S. Plains forcing farmers to cut back on their acreage plans for the crop.

Soft red winter wheat futures were 1.6 per cent higher, with the market underpinned by short-covering, traders said.

Corn also closed firmer but soybean futures settled lower after trading in positive territory for much of Wednesday’s session.

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Concerns about planting delays in the U.S. Midwest provided support to corn but massive domestic supplies kept the gains in check. Profit-taking pressured the soybean market after it rallied sharply from the three-month low hit last week.

MGEX spring wheat has fallen for five days in a row, with the front-month contract shedding 5.8 per cent during the stretch and leaving the market prone to profit-taking by investment funds.

“It has kind of technically broke down,” said Bill Gentry, managing director of agriculture consulting at Risk Management Commodities. “There is probably going to be some liquidation there.”

MGEX spring wheat for May delivery ended down seven cents at $5.34-3/4 a bushel after falling to a contract low of $5.32-1/4 during the session (all figures US$). Deferred spring wheat contracts also hit new lows on Wednesday.

“Remaining snow in northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota melts with warm surge Friday to Monday, but flooding slowly moderates with lack of additional rain,” Commodity Weather Group said in a note to clients on Wednesday.

Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat was up seven cents at $4.71 a bushel.

CBOT May soybeans were 1-1/4 cents lower at $8.98-3/4 a bushel while CBOT May corn was up 1-1/4 cents at $3.62-3/4 a bushel.

“Forecasts keep trending towards cool and wet conditions into the key mid-April stretch, making it increasingly unlikely that farmers in the heart of the Corn Belt will hit those initial corn planting dates this season,” Matt Zeller, director of market information at INTL FCStone said in a note to clients.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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