What Traders are Talking About:
Overnight highlights: As of 6:15 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading fractionally to 2 cents higher, soybeans are 2 to 8 cents higher with old-crop leading gains and wheat futures are roughly 4 to 7 cents higher. Based on overnight trade, grain and soy futures are expected to open the day session with a mildly firmer tone at 8:30 a.m. CT. Cattle and hog futures are seen opening steady to mildly firmer.
* Deluge of precip. Heavy rains fell across most of the Corn Belt overnight, with the heaviest totals in eastern Iowa and northern Illinois. Localized flooding is being seen across the heaviest hit areas. Meanwhile, snow fell on far western and northern areas of the region. In addition to the heavy precip, temps are unseasonably cold. Forecasts call for more of the same over through month-end, with above-normal precip and below-normal temps showing up consistently in forecast models. Given soggy, cold soils and the forecast, it will be at least early May before most producers can even think about getting into fields. As I said yesterday, the area most at risk of severe planting delays is the Dakotas and Minnesota as they will face flooding problems once the snow melts.
The long and short of it: Corn planting delays will become more severe and should start to gain more market attention. As corn planting delays build, it ups the odds of increased soybean acres.
* HRW wheat country braces for another freeze. Beneficial precip fell across areas of the Southern and Central Plains yesterday and overnight. But the weather event traders are most closely watching is today's lows, which are expected to dip as low as the upper teens across some of HRW country. Sub-freezing temps are expected as far south as the Texas Panhandle tonight. This will be yet another hit to a crop that has been plagued by adverse weather, including two previous spring freezes.
The long and short of it: Winter wheat plants are very hearty, but repeated blows from Mother Nature will undoubtedly cut yield potential. Much of how the crop recovers depends on post-freeze weather.
* Pray for West, Texas. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those impacted by the massive explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Wednesday night. Media reports signal up to 15 people were killed and more than 160 were injured by the blast. Authorities are still looking for dozens of individuals, with their efforts being slowed by toxic fumes coming from the exploded plant. Because this is a fertilizer plant, there's an agricultural angle to the story, but the human aspect is far greater.
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