Corn futures are 2 to 7 cents higher, with the front-month contract leading gains.
- Traders are focusing on the likelihood of planting delays as they even positions ahead of the weekend.
- The Corn Belt has benefited from heavy precip this week and more is expected next week. While this is beneficial for soils, it has kept farmers out of the field and along with chilly temps, could result in some acres switched to beans.
- Another side effect of the recent precip is that partial Mississippi River closures due to flooding could further limit old-crop supply availability.
- Gains are being limited by a reminder that high prices have eroded demand. Japan's corn use in feed rations dropped to 42.3% in February, compared to 44.6% a year-ago.
Soybean futures have pared early losses slightly, but bears remain in control. Old-crop beans are mixed with a downside bias, while new-crop is mostly 4 to 7 cents lower.
- Soybean futures are seeing pressure from spreading activity with corn ahead of the weekend.
- Plus, likely planting delays in the Corn Belt could switch some acres to beans. More precip and chilly temps in the forecast for the region next week will further raise this concern.
- Pressure on old-crop beans also stems from concerns that the bird flu situation will take a bite out of the country's feed demand as poultry production plummets.
- Historically high basis levels around the country are limiting selling interest in old-crop futures as this reminds of tight carryover supplies.
Wheat futures have reversed early losses in Chicago to trade mostly 2 to 8 cents higher; Kansas City wheat has also moved off its lows to post gains of mostly 1 to 3 cents. Minneapolis wheat have extended early gains to trade 5 to 10 cents higher.
- Another wintry blast for the upper Midwest overnight and the forecast for continued chilly weather and possibly more snow is adding to concerns about already slow spring wheat plantings. The market will get another update on this Monday, which is lifting Minneapolis.
- The rest of the market have also rallied thanks to concerns about the condition of the HRW crop.
- Temps dipped into the 20s as far south as northern Texas last night, adding to existing concerns about freeze damage. The impact of recent freeze events will take some time to access, but some deterioration is likely to be reflected in Monday's Crop Condition Report.
- Light support also comes from news Informa Economics Reportedly lowered its 2013 winter wheat production estimate by 51 million bu. to 1.581 million bu. due to persistent drought conditions in the HRW Wheat Belt and the crop's poor early development.
Cattle futures have softened a bit to trade slightly lower.
- Light cash cattle trade is getting started in Nebraska at $126. This is down $1 to $2 from trade in the state last week. But it is up from light trade earlier this week at $125. Most locations saw trade at $127 last week.
- Heavier showlist estimates this week and ongoing concerns about beef demand are seen as the reason for lower trade.
- While beef movement has picked up this week, prices have yet to string together consistent gains and the forecast for cool weather could limit spring grilling demand.
- This morning, Choice boxed beef cuts fell 51 cents and Select firmed $1.07, but movement slowed to just 88 loads.
- Traders are also focused on evening positions ahead of this afternoon's Cattle on Feed Report, which is expected to show On Feed at 93.9%, Placements at 99.1% and Marketings at 93.5% of year-ago levels.
- Strength in the corn market and the weak technical posture of the feeder cattle market is encouraging additional selling in feeder cattle futures.
Lean hog futures are posting slight losses in most contracts ahead of midday.
- Traders are engaging in some light profit-taking ahead of the weekend.
- Also, nearby contracts are at a steep premium to the cash hog index. While the cash market is expected to improve as margins are improving and supplies are tightening, traders are working to narrow this gap a bit today.
- But selling interest is also limited thanks to recent improvement in the pork market, though the run-up faltered this morning. The pork cutout value dropped $1.57 and movement slowed to 178.7 loads.
- Traders view recent pork market improvement as a sign retailers are gearing up for spring grilling season. But this morning's action indicates some concerns linger that persistent cold temps could delay this increase in pork demand.
- Losses are being limited by ideas the Chinese bird flu situation could be a boon to the pork market thanks to reduced poultry demand.