Soybeans climb to six-month high on Chinese demand; corn slides

March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Soybean futures rose to a six-month high on signs of increasing demand from China, while U.S. production of the oilseed may not expand as farmers opt to plant more corn and wheat. Corn prices fell.

About 15.07 million bushels of U.S. soybeans were inspected for export to China in the week ended March 8, almost seven times more than the same week last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said March 12. The USDA, which will update acreage estimates March 30, said last month that soybean planting may be unchanged at 75 million acres this year, while farmers boost corn seeding by 2.3 percent and wheat by 6.6 percent.

“Demand has been relatively good coming out of China, and it looks like beans will get cheated on the acres this year,” Frank J. Cholly, a senior commodities broker at RJO Futures in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Corn right now is still a more profitable crop.”

Soybean futures for May delivery climbed 0.2 percent to $13.5175 a bushel at 1:10 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier touching $13.6075, the highest for a most-active contract since Sept. 16. Before today, futures had jumped 12 percent this year as dry weather threatened crops in South America.

Corn futures for May delivery slid 0.9 percent to $6.5625 a bushel in Chicago, heading for the biggest decline since March 7. The most-active contract was up 2.4 percent this year as of yesterday.

Warm Weather

Warm, sunny weather in the U.S. may encourage farmers to speed up spring fieldwork in preparation for an earlier-than- usual planting season, said Jason Britt, the president of brokerage Central States Commodities Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.

Midwest temperatures this week topped 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) and may be “well above normal” during the next 10 days, Telvent DTN forecast. While most farmers begin planting corn in mid-April, Louisiana had sown 23 percent of its crop as of March 11, compared with 6 percent normally, the USDA said.

“It will not be long that someone will test the waters” and begin planting in the Midwest, Britt said in a telephone interview. “If we plant 94 or 95 million acres and get trend- line yields, a lot of this tightness in the corn situation is going to be alleviated.”

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, valued at $76.5 billion in 2011, followed by soybeans at $35.8 billion, government figures show.

Bloomberg News

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