U.S. grain futures slipped Thursday as traders took profits after prices surged earlier in the week on threatening weather.
Corn for July delivery, the most actively traded contract, fell 1 1/2 cents, or 0.2%, from a three-week high to $7.48 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Soft red winter wheat for July delivery stumbled 5 cents, or 0.6%, from a three-month high to $8.12 a bushel.
The markets pulled back slightly despite lingering concerns about rains preventing farmers from sowing corn and spring wheat. Grain users worry farmers may not sow all the grain they had intended because of the slow planting progress.
"It's going to be hard to knock [prices] down very hard because of the weather," said Alan Brugler, president of Brugler Marketing & Management, a brokerage in Nebraska.
Grain users are on edge about corn plantings because farmers need to harvest a big crop to replenish inventories, which are projected to reach a 15-year low this year. Corn futures reached record highs last month as demand stayed strong in the face of high prices and are down 4.5% from that level.
Weather conditions look unfavorable for planting in the Midwest this weekend and early next week. The greatest delays are over eastern areas, including Indiana and Ohio, where farmers are already way behind on planting.
"Basically we are going to be shutting down fieldwork operations," said meteorologists at Freese-Notis Weather, a private forecaster.
Conditions also look too soggy for planting in the northern U.S. Plains and Canada, where spring wheat is grown. Global wheat supplies face other weather challenges from severe dryness in the southern U.S. Plains and France.
Hard red winter wheat futures rose on the weather worries, with the July contract gaining 0.7% to $9.44 3/4 at the Kansas City Board of Trade. At MGEX in Minneapolis, hard red spring wheat for July delivery rose 1% to $10.06 1/4 a bushel.
"A number of crops [are] currently at risk of serious downgrades," agricultural lender Rabobank said in a report.
Soybean futures, which have been taking direction from the grain markets, were little changed. Soybeans for July delivery ended flat at $13.79 1/2 a bushel.
Ethanol for July delivery slumped 0.08% to $2.647 a gallon, while oats lost 0.8% to $3.64 a bushel. July soyoil touched a 2 1/2-week high, closing up 0.3% at 57.46 cents a pound. Soymeal reached its highest price since April 1 before the July contract trimmed gains to close up 0.1% at $361.40 a short ton. CBOT July rice jumped 0.8% to $15.01 1/2 per hundredweight.