Corn futures are lower at midday. Widespread rain over the weekend, particularly in the northwestern Corn Belt, helped recharge soil moisture just as planting is set to ramp up. Weather forecasts for late this week and next week call for a warmer/drier pattern to emerge which should aid planting. Planting progress as of Sunday is expected to be at record pace for mid-April at 15% to 20%, up sharply from 7% a week ago and only 6% last year. However, USDA indicated that due to issues with their servers, the Crop Progress report normally released this afternoon will be delayed until at least Tuesday. May corn is 2 1/4 cents lower at $6.27 and December is 7 cents lower at $5.30.
Soybean futures are trading lower at midsession. Weekend rains that fell across the central Midwest are considered beneficial to restoring soil moisture ahead of the planting season. There have been some concerns that soils were turning too dry in a number of areas and that might hurt early growth if conditions persisted. Technical factors are also weighing on prices. The November futures contract broke below its trading range of the past two weeks, sparking talk of risk of heavy trading fund liquidation. The May contract is down 17 cents at $14.19 3/4 and November is down 14 cents at $13.47 3/4.
Wheat futures are trading lower at midday. Even though there have been violent storms and hail over the Southern Plains through the weekend, actual crop losses are thought to be minor as a whole, even if devastating for the producers hit. Substantial rainfall across much of the Northern Plains was welcome, but MGE futures are down the least at midday due to ongoing concern about disappointing planting intentions figures and longer-term forecasts that the drier-than-normal pattern for much of the Northern Plains will quickly return and persist before soil moisture deficits have been restored. CBOT May is 6 cents lower at $6.17 1/2; KBOT May is 6 3/4 cents lower at $6.36 1/4; and MGE May is 1 cent lower at $8.23 1/4.
Cattle futures are lower at midday. Futures trade is choppy so far. Early gains faded on technically based selling on follow-through from Friday’s pullback. Underlying support stems from solidly higher beef prices on Friday. The uptick in beef was the largest daily gain for choice beef since the price peak in late February, suggesting that beef demand may finally be improving. June cattle futures are 23 cents lower at $115.85 and August is 20 cents lower at $118.85.
Lean hog futures are sharply lower at Midday on Monday. The combination of follow-through selling following the limit-down or near limit down market on Friday coupled with another big drop in the pork cutout are keeping downward pressure on the hog market. Strength in the dollar and renewed concerns about the European financial crisis are also negative for commodity futures prices. Cash prices are expected to be lower on Monday. The May contract is down 88 cents, falling to $89.25. June is $1.43 lower at $88.80.