Corn drops on speculation U.S. planting pace will accelerate

Corn fell in Chicago and soybeans swung between gains and losses on speculation that drier weather will allow U.S. farmers to speed up planting after a report showed fieldwork is progressing the slowest since the 1980s.

Dry weather today may be followed by scattered showers late tomorrow in central Illinois and southern areas of Indiana and Ohio, Commodity Weather Group said today in a report. Other parts of the Midwest will be mostly dry until May 17, before rains occur during the weekend through early next week, it said. Farmers had planted 28% of corn in the main growing states as of May 12, the slowest since at least 1980, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday.

“The weather reports give America’s farmers another three or four days of dry weather, although likely to turn quite cool, to get into their fields and plant,” economist Dennis Gartman said today in his daily Gartman Letter. “America’s grain producers shall be in their fields en masse.”

Corn for July delivery fell 0.5% to $6.525 a bushel at 7:44 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures trading volume was 10% higher than the average for the past 100 days for the time of day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Soybeans for July delivery were little changed at $14.185 a bushel, after touching $14.26, the highest for a most- active contract since March 28.

Six% of soybean crops in the largest U.S. producing states had been planted as of May 12, behind the average pace of 24% and the slowest progress for that time period since 1984, the USDA said yesterday. Areas of Iowa and Illinois, the top growers of corn and soybeans, had double the normal amount of rain in the past month, National Weather Service data show.

Core Influences

“Delays can have two core influences on soy yields,” Chris Gadd, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London, said in a report today. “Firstly, we are likely to see the key growth phases of the crop in hotter and drier conditions. Secondly, as we delay plantings we delay harvest, therefore pushing harvest later in the year where first frosts can influence the crop.”

About 29% of winter wheat crops had reached the heading stage as of May 12, a phase of plant development when the grain emerges from the stem, the USDA said. That compares with the five-year average of 51%. Slow maturity of winter wheat crops in the Midwest means the harvest, which usually starts in June, may be delayed, reducing the number of acres that can be sown with soybeans, Macquarie’s Gadd said.

Wheat for delivery in July rose 0.2% to $7.1125 a bushel in Chicago. In Paris, milling wheat for November delivery declined 0.2% to 209.75 euros ($271.89) a metric ton on NYSE Liffe.

Bloomberg News

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