Wheat Rises to Two-Week High on U.S. Cold Threat; Soybeans Gain

Jan 06, 2014 3:16 pm ET

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Wheat closed steady after reaching a two-week high on concern that arctic weather may damage crops in the U.S., the world’s top exporter. Soybeans and corn gained as cold temperatures curtailed farmer sales.

Temperatures dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees Celsius), increasing the potential for significant damage to as much as 15 percent of the winter-wheat crop in the U.S. Great Plains, Kyle Tapley, a senior agricultural meteorologist at MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said in a telephone interview. Most of the southern Great Plains and Midwest had 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow to protect dormant crops, he said.

“We haven’t seen these types of temperatures in 20 years and the market is uncertain of the eventual impact on yields,” Chad Henderson, the president of Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc. in Brookfield, Wisconsin, said in a telephone interview. “Smaller crops may spur increased overseas buying.”

Wheat futures for delivery in March closed unchanged $6.0575 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade after touching $6.1275, the highest since Dec. 23. Prices slumped to $5.95 on Jan. 2, the lowest since May 2012, on the outlook for record global supplies.

U.S. winter-wheat planting probably climbed to the highest in six years at 43.53 million acres as improved soil moisture and high crop-insurance guarantees encouraged farmers to expand, according to a survey of 18 analysts by Bloomberg News. U.S. inventories of all varieties on Dec. 1 may have fallen 15 percent to 1.417 billion bushels from a year earlier, a separate survey showed. The Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release its estimates on Jan. 10.

Soybean futures for March delivery climbed 0.4 percent to $12.7675 a bushel, the biggest gain since Dec. 27.

Corn futures for delivery in March advanced 1 percent to $4.2775 a bushel in Chicago. Prices touched $4.17 on Jan. 3, the lowest since Nov. 8.

Both corn and soybeans rose for a second straight session as cold temperatures and low prices curbed farmer selling and tightened supplies for immediate use, Henderson said.

--With assistance from Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok and Whitney McFerron in London. Editors: Millie Munshi, Joe Richter