U.S. grain futures surged Friday on renewed concerns about intense heat threatening the corn crop.
Corn for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, ended up 12 1/2 cents, or 1.9%, at $6.85 1/2 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Soft red winter wheat for September delivery climbed 15 cents, or 2.2%, to $6.92 1/4 a bushel. Soybeans for November delivery gained 1/4 cent, or 0.02%, to $13.88 1/4 a bushel.
Driving prices higher were forecasts for hot weather to return to the Midwest next week and add stress to corn following a Midwestern heat wave. A cool-down expected at the beginning of the week is "like getting fans down in hell" because temperatures will still be warm, said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading, a brokerage firm in Indiana.
"It's cooler, but it's definitely not heaven," he said.
Traders are paying close attention to weather because farmers need favorable conditions to grow a large corn crop to replenish low inventories. Corn prices have pulled back 14% since reaching an all-time high in early June on supply concerns. Yet, users of the grain remain nervous about next fall's harvest.
Showers are expected in most of the Midwest this weekend, but the heat will return by the middle of next week, said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc., a private forecaster. Some corn already suffered damage from this week's heat wave.
"The rain is not going to be heavy enough to provide a lasting boost in soil moisture," Karst said.
Wheat and soybean futures rose with corn. Livestock producers are expected to increasingly feed wheat to animals instead of high-priced corn.
September oats rose 0.4% to $3.53 a bushel, and December ethanol added 1.1% to close at $2.543 per gallon. December soymeal advanced 0.1% to $369.30 per short ton, while December soyoil gained 0.2% to 57.48 cents per pound. September rice fell 0.7% to $16.74 per hundredweight.
At the Kansas City Board of Trade, hard red winter wheat for September delivery jumped 0.7% to $7.80 a bushel. Hard red spring wheat for September delivery rose 0.6% to $8.38 1/2 a bushel.