U.S. corn falls to three-year low on record crop outlook

U.S. new-crop corn futures fell to a three-year low on Friday and soy slipped as well on prospects for record harvests this autumn.

“The path of least resistance is lower since there is still no legitimate weather threat to the crop and still forecasts for record production,” said Shawn McCambridge, analyst at Jefferies Bache.

Wheat fell to its lowest level in more than a year on spillover from falling corn and on tepid U.S. export sales of wheat.

“In wheat we continue to see export tenders and the U.S. gets some business with Brazil and Mexico but not overseas and that is bearish for wheat futures,” McCambridge said.

Chicago Board of Trade new-crop December corn futures closed down 6-1/2 cents per bushel at $4.53-1/4 per bushel, November soybeans were down 2 at $11.82-1/4, and wheat for September delivery was down 7-3/4 at $6.33-1/2 (all figures US$).

Thinly traded spot August soybeans fell 15 cents per bushel to $13.40-3/4 on long-liquidation ahead of expiration of that contract next week (Aug. 14).

A government report on Monday is expected to show record production prospects for U.S. corn and soybeans this season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is to release its August crop report at 12 p.m. ET on Monday. In a Reuters poll, the average estimate of analysts pegged 2013 U.S. soy production at a record-high 3.338 billion bushels, and corn at a record 13.980 billion bushels.

“With the first USDA survey of corn yields due next week, further spot price weakness is likely if yields prove better than our expectation of 157 bushels/acre,” JPMorgan analysts said in a note.

Private forecaster Lanworth raised its forecast for the U.S. corn crop on Friday and also increased its soybean outlook.

Concerns that an early frost could harm the immature corn and soybean crops helped underpin futures, as did a turn to drier weather in the U.S. in August, the critical month for the pod-setting stage of soybean development.

Moderate temperatures for the next couple of weeks will aid growth and development of U.S. corn and soybeans, but lack of rain is becoming an issue, an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday.

“We’re still looking at a benign temperature scenario, temperatures below normal. But there is also below-normal rainfall, and soybeans could use some more rain,” said John Dee, meteorologist at Global Weather Monitoring.

Soybeans also found underpinning from export demand, with top buyer China reporting record-high imports for July and U.S. weekly new-crop export sales on Thursday above expectations.

— Sam Nelson is a Reuters correspondent covering the CBOT grain and oilseed markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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