Futures File: Weather or not: Wheat rallies

Wheat futures have rallied more than $1/bushel in the last month – a nearly 20% increase in total contract value. Depressed prices from December through March left room for a positive bounce should something bullish begin to percolate.

Drought-stricken wheat country in the western plains was a big reason for the rally early on, but there have been rains touching down in some key spots over the last three weeks. The rains were not all-encompassing but enough to put a lid on a rally based on domestic weather, which seemed to be the case.

However, fresh weather news from outside the U.S. rejuvenated the bulls and the July KC Wheat futures made new nearby highs last Monday, trading to $6.79/bushel, a price level not seen since early December of last year.

Last week it was reported that two of Russia’s key grain-growing areas experienced frosts causing severe damage to crops that would reduce this year’s harvest.

The Lipetsk and neighboring Voronezh areas are part of Russia’s fertile Black Earth region, producing potatoes, sunflowers, sugar beets, fruit and, of course, wheat.

The Voronezh ministry said the damage stemmed from frosts on the nights of May 3-4 and May 4-5, when the air temperature had fallen to 23.7 Fahrenheit and the soil temperature to 23 Fahrenheit.

Several analysts had already reduced their forecasts for the 2024 grain harvest because of dry weather in the south, and the frost impact is still uncertain but will undoubtedly lead to forecasts of further reduced harvest potential.

Wheat is famous for having nine lives, and the question traders will be asking themselves over the weekend is: Are we closer to number three or number six?


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