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Wheat Falls, Halts Rally, as Rain May Aid U.S., Australia Crops

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Wheat fell for the first time in four sessions on speculation that rain will improve crop prospects in the U.S. and Australia.

Precipitation in the southern Great Plains will improve soil moisture in areas where growers are preparing to seed winter varieties, said Larry Glenn, an analyst at grain marketer Frontier Ag in Quinter, Kansas. Western Australia, the country’s biggest growing state, has received “desperately needed” rain, Perth-based CBH Group said today.

“There’s some rain in the eastern section of the southern Plains,” Glenn said. “They’ve been a bit dry, so they need it for planting. In Western Australia, they’re counting on some moisture.”

Wheat futures for December delivery fell 18.75 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $6.8575 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier rising as much as 1.3 percent. Wheat gained 3.7 percent this month, touching $8.68 on Aug. 6, the highest price in almost two years, as a drought damaged the crop in Russia and prompted the government to halt grain exports.

In Western Australia, more rainfall is needed to boost crop conditions, according to CBH Group. Some parts of the country may receive light rainfall this week, Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dan Goddard said by telephone.

Last year, the U.S. was the world’s largest exporter, Canada and Russia were tied at No. 2, followed by Australia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Argentina, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

Wheat is the fourth-biggest U.S. crop, valued at $10.6 billion in 2009, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony C. Dreibus in Chicago at tdreibus@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.

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