U.S. grain and soy review: Crop woes focus on spring wheat, corn

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U.S. grain and soybean futures soared Friday on increasing concerns about crop losses due to poor weather in the Midwest and northern Plains earlier this year.

Worries focused on the spring wheat and corn crops as traders said early harvest reports revealed yields were lower than expected. Excessive rains delayed planting of both crops this spring, and corn suffered from an intense heat wave in July.

"The reports of poor corn keep pouring in," said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage in Iowa.

Corn for December delivery rose 12 1/4 cents, or 1.7%, to $7.25 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Soft red winter wheat for December delivery jumped 22 cents, or 3%, to $7.61 1/4 a bushel. Soybeans for November delivery gained 7 1/2 cents, or 0.6%, to $13.68 1/2 a bushel.

Prices climbed as traders worried an annual crop tour next week will confirm widespread damage to corn from last month’s hot, dry weather. The tour, organized by agricultural firm Pro Farmer, will survey fields from Ohio to South Dakota, releasing nightly crop estimates from individual states and a final output forecast Friday.

"If grower reports are accurate, [the tour] should unveil smaller corn yields with ears not filled out and small kernel sizes," said Tim Hannagan, analyst for PFG Best in Chicago.

Prices for spring wheat posted even larger gains, as traders worried forecasts for output and plantings had been overstated. The Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased concerns about the crop this week by estimating plantings of spring wheat other than durum at about 11.7 million acres, down nearly one million acres from an estimate issued in a USDA report last week.

Hard red spring wheat for December delivery surged 28 cents, or 3.1%, to $9.20 3/4 a bushel at MGEX in Minneapolis, up 6.6% on the week. Hard red winter wheat futures also advanced, with the December contract gaining 23 1/4 cents, or 2.8%, to $8.42 3/4 a bushel at the Kansas City Board of Trade.

"I’m hearing that yields are not great" for spring wheat, said Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Market Solutions, a commodities brokerage in South Dakota.

In other markets, ethanol for December delivery rose 2.1% to $2.673 per gallon, while oats for September delivery added 1.8% at $3.48 1/2 a bushel. December soyoil edged up 0.2% to 55.95 cents per pound, and December soymeal finished up 0.4% to $360.90 per short ton. September rice fell 0.8% to $16.74 1/2 per hundredweight.


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