Wheat, corn lower after USDA raises supply concerns

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, USA (Reuters) – U.S. wheat and corn futures were lower on Friday, a day after rising on forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that pointed to a reduction in global supply.

* Traders took some profits ahead of the weekend and on expectations that US farmers are bringing corn planting forward thanks to improving weather in the Midwest, analysts said.

* USDA will post a weekly update on planting progress on Monday.

* Markets, however, remain nervous about tight grain supplies, due to poor global harvests and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major exporter of wheat and corn, analysts said.

* «There is zero tolerance for crop problems in the US this summer,» Tomm Pfitzenmaier, an analyst at Summit Commodity Brokerage in Iowa, said of corn.

* The Chicago Stock Exchange’s most active soft red winter wheat contract was down 7.75 cents at $11.71 a bushel by 1520 GMT, after rising to a two-month high. KC hard red winter wheat and MGEX spring wheat futures were also lower after July contracts hit new highs.

* The most active corn was down 10 cents at $7.8150 a bushel, while soybeans were up 23.25 cents at $16.37 a bushel.

* Strength in crude oil and stocks helped soybeans in Chicago, Pfitzenmaier said.

* The USDA reported the sale of 132,000 tons of old crop US soybeans to China.

* The agency, in a monthly crop report released Thursday, sparked a rally in wheat futures by forecasting a six-year low for global stocks next season and a nine-year low for US stocks.

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* Traders were particularly surprised by a lower-than-expected 2022/23 production estimate for US hard red winter wheat, which suffered from heat damage.

* The report reflected «an increasingly tense context linked to the double effect of climate risks and tension in the Black Sea,» said the consultancy Agritel.

* In France, grades for soft wheat crops fell sharply last week, according to data from agricultural bureau FranceAgriMer, suggesting growing stress for plants from dry weather.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago and Gus Trompiz in Paris; Editing in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)