U.S. grains: Spring wheat sinks to 10-year low on burdensome supplies

MGEX December 2019 spring wheat with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. spring wheat futures tumbled to a 10-year low on Friday under pressure from massive supplies, cutting prices for makers of artisanal breads, bagels and pizza crust.

The decline hurts farmers across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota who are in the process of harvesting a large crop for the second year in a row. It is the latest blow for growers who have suffered over the past year as the trade war between Washington and Beijing has slashed shipments of U.S. soybeans to top-importer China.

Many farmers have recently sold spring wheat at low prices after keeping it in storage since last year because they need to make room for this year’s harvest, traders said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects yields to reach a record-high for this crop, which is known as “the aristocrat of wheat” because of its high protein content.

“The farmers really had no choice but to pitch some of that old-crop wheat,” said Joe Nussmeier, broker at Frontier Futures in Minneapolis. “You had back-to-back bin buster crops.”

Nearby MGEX wheat futures sank as low as $4.77-1/2 a bushel, the lowest price for a front-month contract since October 2009 (all figures US$). The December spring wheat contract ended down one per cent at $4.96-3/4 and set a contract low of $4.96-1/4.

Other wheat futures also dropped as bigger-than-expected deliveries against September futures contracts indicated there are large supplies of the grain. Deliveries are closely monitored by traders, and a large number of deliveries tends to pressure the nearby futures contract price.

The most active soft red winter wheat contract at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) dropped 2.4 per cent to close at $4.62-1/2 a bushel and touched its lowest price since May 2019.

Nearby K.C. hard red winter wheat fell to its lowest price since September 2016. December hard red winter wheat settled 1.6 per cent weaker at $3.97-1/4 a bushel and set a contract low of $3.93-3/4.

The CBOT reported 440 deliveries against CBOT September wheat and 1,000 K.C. September wheat deliveries on first notice day, defying trade expectations for minimal deliveries. The MGEX reported 666 September spring wheat deliveries.

“Heavy deliveries in all three markets reminded traders about burdensome supplies,” Farm Futures said in a note.

The losses in wheat dragged down prices in the neighbouring corn market, traders said. Most-active corn slipped 0.6 per cent to $3.69-3/4 a bushel at the CBOT, while soybeans were nearly unchanged.

The markets will be closed on Monday for the Labour Day holiday.

Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago; additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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