U.S. grains: Prices touch one-week lows on improved U.S. harvest weather

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures touched one-week lows on Monday as drier weather in the U.S. Midwest was expected to allow harvests to accelerate after rain delays.

Corn finished near unchanged, shaking off losses associated with the improved harvest outlook as technical buyers entered the market.

Forecasts for mostly dry conditions across the Corn Belt drove down prices early in the session after prices rallied in recent weeks on concerns about wet weather slowing the harvest of record-large U.S. crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a weekly report, said the corn harvest as of Sunday was 31 per cent complete, below the five-year average of 53 per cent for that date, and the soybean harvest was 53 per cent complete, below the average of 66 per cent.

Traders had expected the corn harvest to be 33 per cent complete, up from 24 per cent a week ago, and the soybean harvest to be 55 per cent complete, up from 40 per cent a week ago.

Weather conditions look “excellent” for farmers to make up for lost time over the next week to 10 days, said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage in Iowa, the top corn and soy producing state.

“Corn harvest should get underway in a big way this week,” he said.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, December corn ended nearly flat at $3.48-1/4 a bushel after trading to a one-week low of $3.42 (all figures US$). November soybeans dropped 0.8 per cent to $9.44-1/4 a bushel after touching a one-week low of $9.36.

Wheat prices also were lower, with the CBOT December contract closing 0.5 per cent lower at $5.13-1/2 a bushel.

Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, issued a tender to buy an unspecified amount of wheat from global suppliers for shipment from Nov. 21 to 30.

U.S. wheat faces competition for export business on the world market, and Egypt bought 175,000 tonnes of French and Russian wheat in its last international wheat purchase on Oct. 10.

The wheat market came under pressure from concerns that abundant supplies of lower-priced corn will hurt demand for wheat from the feed sector, traders said. Both grains can be used for animal feed.

Gains in wheat will be limited by “continued global feed substitution back to corn,” Morgan Stanley said, adding that there were adequate supplies in Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Commodity funds sold a net 4,000 Chicago Board of Trade soybean contracts, bought 2,000 corn contracts and sold 1,000 wheat contracts, traders said.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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