Bloomberg News

Wheat Drops on Speculation Demand for U.S. Exports May Shrink

August 30, 2011

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Wheat fell for a second straight day on speculation that demand for U.S. exports may slide as importers seek cheaper supplies from growers in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Yemen bought 100,000 metric tons of wheat from the Black Sea region, Paris-based farm adviser Agritel said today. Wheat futures touched a three-month high yesterday, before retreating, on concern that adverse weather would hurt U.S. crops. Gains may have been exaggerated, as Middle Eastern importers have stepped up purchases from other suppliers, shunning U.S. grain.

“Wheat is not at all-time highs, but it’s certainly above normal price levels,” Dan Kuechenmeister, the manager of the commodities department at RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis, said in a telephone interview. “We don’t have any new bullish news for the grain markets to go higher.”

Wheat futures for December delivery fell 4.25 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $7.9075 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Yesterday, the price climbed to $8.055, the highest for a most-active contract since May 31, before declining. The grain is up 10 percent this month.

Russia’s harvest of grains including wheat may exceed 90 million metric tons, the state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper reported today, citing an interview with Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik. That’s bigger than forecaster SovEcon’s estimate of as much as 88 million tons. On July 1, Russia, once the second-largest wheat exporter, lifted a ban on shipments that was imposed after drought reduced domestic supplies.

‘Light Showers’

Areas of west-central Kansas and southern Nebraska got as much as 0.75 inch (1.9 centimeters) of rain last night, according to a Telvent DTN forecast. Much of southern Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma are suffering from record drought. The southern Great Plains, where winter wheat will be planted in the next two months, may have “a few light showers” through Sept. 4, Telvent said.

“There’s a chance of rain, but the drought is not going to get busted until we get a really steady rain,” said Dennis Delaughter, the owner of Progressive Farm Marketing Inc. in Edna, Texas. “We’ve got cracks 2 inches wide in some of our wheat land that we’re planning on planting in. We’re going to need to have a good rainfall.”

The U.S. is the world’s biggest wheat exporter. The grain is the country’s fourth-largest crop, valued at $13 billion last year, behind corn, soybeans and hay.

--With assistance from Marina Sysoyeva in Moscow and Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris. Editors: Daniel Enoch, Steve Stroth.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in Chicago at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.


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