CBOT corn outlook: Climbing as weather delays planting

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U.S. corn futures are poised to start stronger Monday on expectations cool, wet weather will severely limit planting this week.

Traders and analysts predict corn for July delivery, the most-actively traded contract, will start 13 to 16 cents a bushel higher at the Chicago Board of Trade. In overnight electronic trading, the contract advanced 15 1/2 cents, or 2.1%, to $7.60 a bushel.

Leading prices higher are forecasts for farmers to see more rain after storms swept through the eastern and southern Midwest and Mississippi Delta during the weekend. Continued wetness means there is "little chance for field work or planting this week," according to Telvent DTN, a private weather firm

Traders are on edge about the weather delaying planting because the country needs to grow a large corn crop to replenish inventories, which are projected to reach a 15-year low before harvest next fall. Nearby corn futures recently reached record highs on concerns about strong demand draining supplies and are about 4% below that level.

"Each day's delay does produce concerns," said Dennis Gartman, publisher of the Gartman Letter, a widely read financial newsletter.

Traders are waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue an update on planting progress in a weekly crop progress report due at 4 p.m. EDT.

Planting should be about 9% to 14% complete, behind average and up from 7% a week ago, according to AgResource Company, a consultancy in Chicago. Farmers will likely have less than 20% of the crop planted by April 30, pushing the 2011 crop year into the category of "historically late seeded," the firm said.

"Little, if any, progress is expected this week amid the regularity of storm systems pulling across the central U.S.," AgResource told clients in a note.

If planting delays persist, nearby corn futures could soar to new record highs of $8 to $9 a bushel, said Jay O'Neil, senior agricultural economist at Kansas State University. Nearby CBOT May corn rose to $7.52 1/2 a bushel overnight, down from the record high of $7.83 3/4 that was reached earlier this month.

--Sameer Mohindru in Singapore contributed to this article.



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