April 30, 2013 / 4:11 PM / 6 years ago

GRAINS-Wheat jumps 2 pct on damage concerns as crop tour begins

* Wheat, soy have best month since July
    * Corn declines third straight month
    * U.S. corn planting pace ties slowest on record
    * Crop scouts may find damage to winter wheat in Kansas

 (Updates U.S. market activity to close, adds analyst comments)
    By Michael Hirtzer
    CHICAGO, April 30 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat surged 2 percent on
Tuesday, with benchmark futures at the Kansas City Board of
Trade climbing to the highest level in seven weeks on concerns
scouts on an annual crop tour will find freeze-damaged fields in
the top growing state of Kansas.
    Corn and soybean futures each lost ground as investors at
the Chicago Board of Trade took profits after Monday's biggest
rallies since last summer's drought.
    Wheat futures reversed from early losses to turn higher,
capping their best month since July. KCBT's most-active July
contract rose 13-3/4 cents to $7.89-1/2 per bushel. CBOT
July wheat gained 14-1/2 cents to $7.31, rising 2 percent
for the day and nearly 5 percent for the month.
    "Traders are hesitant to be sellers as they expect damage
reports to come out of the crop tour. The crop tour is keeping
sellers on the sidelines," said Shawn McCambridge, analyst for
Jefferies Bache.
    The annual Wheat Quality Council tour started from
Manhattan, in northeastern Kansas, with scouts finding wheat
that is one to two weeks behind normal development and yield
prospects slightly below last year. 
    Experts on the tour said crop conditions were likely to
worsen as the tour moves west after cold weather stunted growth
and damaged plants. Scouts stop overnight on Tuesday in Colby,
in western Kansas near the Colorado border. The tour concludes
on Thursday in Kansas City, where scouts will project yield and
production for Kansas.
    The U.S. Agriculture Department this week rated the winter
wheat crop 33 percent good to excellent, down from 64 percent
last year and the lowest for this time of year since 1996.
    "You're seeing the good stuff," said Mark Hodges, executive
director of Plains Grains Inc, who is on the tour.
    Corn futures shed 1.5 percent and declined for the third
straight month even as forecasts for snow and rains in the U.S.
Midwest were likely to stall spring plantings that are already
advancing at the slowest pace in history.
    Futures for the yellow grain soared 6 percent on Monday,
rising the most since last July during the summer rally in which
the worst drought since 1934 propelled corn and soybean prices
to all-time highs.
    Now, one of the wettest springs in history is delaying
plantings but also replenishing soil moisture while growers are
likely to respond to the historically high prices by increasing
acreage. USDA in March estimated corn plantings as the biggest
since 1933.
    "Yesterday's rally was overdone," said Sterling Smith, a
futures specialist for Citigroup.
    CBOT July corn settled 9-3/4 cents lower at $6.50 per
bushel, losing more than 3 percent in the month.
    Most-active July soybeans fell 10-3/4 cents to $13.99
but rose modestly during the month. Soybeans on a continuous
chart jumped more than 4 percent in April, for their best
month since July.
    U.S. farmers had planted only 5 percent of the corn crop as
of Sunday, matching 1984 for the slowest planting pace ever.
    Heavy rains and as much as a foot (30 cm) of snow is
forecast beginning on Tuesday, a meteorologist said.
    "They (farmers) certainly won't get much done this week.
There is a big storm system starting Tuesday that will spread in
intensity and coverage by Thursday and linger into the weekend,"
said Don Keeney, a meteorologist for MDA Weather Services.
    Keeney said snow could be expected from Nebraska, eastern
Colorado, Kansas into the northern Midwest with up to a foot of
snow possible in western Iowa. "Elsewhere they'll receive heavy
rains of 2.0 to 3.0 inches or more," he said.
 Prices at 3:19 p.m. CDT (2019 GMT)      
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 CBOT corn                  650.00    -9.75  -1.5%    0.5%
 CBOT soy                  1399.00   -10.75  -0.8%   16.7%
 CBOT meal                  428.30    -3.10  -0.7%   38.4%
 CBOT soyoil                 49.13    -0.33  -0.7%   -5.7%
 CBOT wheat                 731.00    14.50   2.0%   12.0%
 CBOT rice                 1485.50    19.50   1.3%    1.7%
 EU wheat                   252.25     4.00   1.6%   24.6%
 US crude                    92.99    -1.52  -1.6%   -5.9%
 Dow Jones                  14,840       21   0.1%   21.5%
 Gold                      1476.21     0.42   0.0%   -5.6%
 Euro/dollar                1.3169   0.0072   0.5%    1.7%
 Dollar Index              81.7110  -0.4360  -0.5%    1.9%
 Baltic Freight                863       -5  -0.6%  -50.3%

 (Additional reporting by Sam Nelson in Chicago and Nigel Hunt
in London; Editing by Maureen Bavdek,  Marguerita Choy and Diane
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