Grain, Soybean Futures Rise Ahead of Crop Tour

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures inched higher after a mixed week.

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Soybean contracts led gains, with September futures climbing 0.8% to $9.37 1/2 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. September wheat rose 0.5% to $4.16 a bushel while September corn rose 0.4% to $3.52 a bushel.

Analysts said some of Friday's strength came as traders moved out of short positions ahead of the weekend and a closely watched crop tour next week.

Traders will be looking to the Farm Journal crop tours, which will traverse the eastern and western Corn Belt, for clues on U.S. crop conditions. Market participants are particularly keen to see the extent to which crop scouts will support or cast doubt on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent corn and soybean harvest forecasts.

The USDA said last week it expects record-high soybean production of 4.38 billion bushels this harvest, based on a yield of 49.4 bushels per acre. The agency put corn production at a bumper 14.15 billion bushels, with a yield of 169.5 bushels per acre.

That was well above prereport estimates by analysts, who expected weeks of tough growing weather--with too little rain in some areas alongside too much in others, as well as erratic temperatures--to cut into this year's harvest forecasts. A number of analysts voiced skepticism over the USDA's figures.

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New estimates from the Farm Journal scouts will throw traders a fresh batch of data to gnaw on.

A move by South Korea to reopen the country to U.S. chicken also gave corn prices a lift, said Terry Reilly, a senior commodity analyst at Futures International.

U.S. chicken meat and egg sales to South Korea have been suspended at various points over the past three years due to concerns about avian influenza. A boost to the U.S. poultry industry could support grain farmers who produce animal feed.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 18, 2017 15:39 ET (19:39 GMT)