Wheat Declines as Rainfall in U.S. Boosts Winter Crop Prospects

Wheat fell for the fourth time in five sessions as rain from Arkansas to Ohio boosts prospects for soft, red winter crops that are now in dormancy.

As much as a half-inch of rain (1.3 centimeters) fell in parts of the region, improving subsoil moisture in areas where the worst U.S. drought since the 1930s curbed crop prospects last year, National Weather Service data show. Futures gained 19 percent last year.

“The improved moisture is expected to help out the wheat,” Brian Hoops, the president of Midwest Market Solutions in Springfield, Missouri, said in a telephone interview. “It’s too early to say it’s going to be a major benefit to the crop, but it’s certainly not going to hurt.”

Wheat futures for March delivery slid 0.2 percent to $7.75 a bushel at 10 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. The price through Jan. 25 was down 0.2 percent this month.

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

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