Wheat Drops From One-Month High as Rain May Boost Plains Crops

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- Wheat futures fell from a one-month high on speculation that rains this week in the U.S. Great Plains will improve the prospects of winter crops emerging from dormancy this month.

Areas of the Plains may get as much as 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) of precipitation through March 9, QT Weather said. The crop in Kansas, the biggest U.S. winter-wheat grower, was rated 52 percent good to excellent as of Feb. 27, up from 49 percent a month earlier, government data show. Parts of southern Kansas still suffer from dry conditions after months of below-normal rain, University of Nebraska at Lincoln data show.

“The Kansas area seems to be in a pretty reasonable moisture situation now,” Lawrence Kane, a market adviser at Stewart-Peterson Group in Yates City, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. “Last fall, they were bone dry, but they have rebuilt their soil-moisture profile.”

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 0.4 percent to $6.72 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Earlier, the price reached $6.7775, the highest for a most-active contract since Feb. 1.

The heaviest rain will fall in central Kansas southward to central Texas, while western areas may get less, Allen Motew, a meteorologist at QT Weather in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. Temperatures may top 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) in much of the Plains today and tomorrow before falling below freezing on March 8, he said.

Wheat is the fourth-largest U.S. crop, valued at $14.4 billion in 2011, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in Chicago at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McKiernan at pmckiernan@bloomberg.net