U.S. soybeans, corn rise as rain to delay Midwest harvest

U.S. soybean futures rebounded from a 20-month low on Monday and corn rose slightly from a 37-month low as rain was expected to stall the Midwest harvest this week followed by frigid weather which could damage crops in some areas.

Prices for both commodities, however, remain anchored by expectations for massive U.S. crops this year. U.S. Department of Agriculture crop reports are not available due to the partial government shutdown but investors are still receiving a steady stream of private reports suggesting corn and soy yields are as large or larger than anticipated.

“The rains in the west today and tomorrow are heading east Tuesday and Wednesday. That will provide a shortened week for harvest,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc.

“Some people are also concerned about the frost expected to hit much of the northern third of the Corn Belt on Friday and Saturday,” he said.

Storms are expected to bring moderate rainfall to 50 per cent of the Corn Belt through midweek followed by a drop in temperatures, forecasters said.

Most corn and soybean plants are already mature enough that frost would do little damage, but late-developing crops could experience some yield or quality losses.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans rose 6-1/4 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $12.73 per bushel after earlier sinking as low as $12.61-3/4, the lowest spot price since February 2012 (all figures US$).

Prices were further supported by persistent demand from China, the world’s top soybean importer.

CBOT December corn added 3-3/4 cents, or 0.9 per cent, at $4.37 a bushel after earlier hitting a low of $4.32, the lowest spot price since September 2010.

Commodity funds bought an estimated net 5,000 corn contracts and 3,000 soybean contracts on the day, trade sources said.

USDA will not provide an update on harvest progress for a second consecutive week due to the government shutdown. Analysts estimated that the U.S. corn harvest was about 31 per cent complete as of Sunday and the soybean harvest was 45 per cent complete, a Reuters poll showed.

U.S. wheat futures closed near previous levels, capped by profit taking following last week’s 3-1/2 month peaks.

Wheat prices remained underpinned by strong export demand and concerns about reduced crops and wheat quality in South America and the Black Sea region.

CBOT December wheat rose 1/4 cent to $6.92-1/2 a bushel.

— Karl Plume reports for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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