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Corn, Soybeans Rise as Wet, Cold Weather May Threaten U.S. Crops

Corn and soybeans rose on speculation that wet, cold weather across the U.S. Midwest will limit planting and reduce yields.

Fields from central Arkansas to Detroit may get as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain the next 10 days, keeping soils saturated, said Tim Bowden, a senior meteorologist for Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Farms from Nebraska to northern Indiana will receive as much as 4 inches of rain, and the cool weather will slow evaporation, Bowden said.

“The markets are focused on the extended planting delays developing in the Midwest,” said Mark Schultz, the chief analyst for Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis. “Farmers are already looking at shorter-season varieties,” which will yield less than normal, he said.

Corn futures for July delivery rose 4 cents, or 0.5 percent, to close at $7.445 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices have doubled in the past year, and on April 11 touched $7.8875, the highest since June 2008. Still, the commodity dropped 0.7 percent for the week. The CBOT will be closed tomorrow in observance of the Good Friday holiday.

Soybean futures for July delivery advanced 20.5 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $13.8975 a bushel in Chicago. The most-active futures gained 3.5 percent this week, after touching a three-week low of $13.2825 on April 14.

Soybeans also rose on increased U.S. sales to China, the world’s biggest importer and consumer, Schultz said. Rising sales of corn for delivery after Sept. 1 provided support, he said. The U.S. is the largest grower and exporter of both crops.

U.S. Exports Gain

U.S. exporters sold 348,960 metric tons of soybeans in the week ended April 14 for delivery before Aug. 31, more than double the 130,191 tons sold a week earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today. China bought more than 50 percent of the total.

Sales of corn for delivery after Sept. 1 totaled 243,908 tons, pushing the accumulated total to 3.132 million, four times higher than at the same time last year, USDA data show.

“The sales to China were a surprise with talk about cancelations this week,” Schultz said. “Overseas demand for this year’s corn crop is rising because of the weather problems.”

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, valued at $66.7 billion in 2010, followed by soybeans at $38.9 billion, government figures show.

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