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CANBERRA: Chicago wheat futures took a breather on Monday as traders locked in profits after prices climbed to nine-month highs last week due to concerns that bad weather conditions were damaging crops in top exporter Russia.

Soybean and corn futures also edged lower despite worries about supply from South America.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was down 1% at $6.56-3/4 a bushel by 0329 GMT, while CBOT soybeans fell 0.3% to $12.15-3/4 a bushel and corn slipped 0.6% to $4.67 a bushel.

Wheat rose to $6.65 on Friday, its highest level since last August. Record shipments from Russia pushed prices to $5.24 in March, the lowest since 2020, but dry and then cold weather damaged Russian crops, pushing up prices and forcing speculators to slash bearish bets.

“If dry conditions in Russia push on all through May, that’ll be the news needed to push prices higher,” said Rod Baker at Australian Crop Forecasters. “But if we get some good rain, prices could come back just as quickly.”

Three of Russia’s key grain-growing areas declared a state of emergency due to May frosts. Authorities have said farmers in some areas will need to re-sow crops and consultants Sovecon downgraded their forecast for the 2024 wheat crop to 89.6 million metric tons from 93 million tons.

Chicago wheat rises on global demand

Dry weather has also hit parts of the U.S. wheat belt, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday that wheat ending stocks for 2024/25 would be below analysts’ expectations.

Soybeans and corn have also suffered supply upsets. CBOT futures for both contracts fell in February to their lowest since 2020 amid ample supply, but corn has since risen around 15% and soybeans around 7.5%.

Floods in Brazil have knocked millions of tons off the country’s soybean harvest, and strikes at grain ports and crushing plants in Argentina are impacting shipments.

However, U.S. farmers should produce their second-biggest soybean harvest this year, raising record-large global inventories by more than analysts predicted, the USDA said.

In corn, the USDA projected U.S. stocks for 2024/25 at a six-year high but below analysts’ expectations. The weather has hampered corn planting in the U.S. Midwest.

Meanwhile, a leafhopper insect outbreak has caused $2.045 billion in losses to Argentina’s corn crop, the Rosario grains exchange said.

On the demand side, top importer China cut its forecasts for imports of corn and soybeans in the 2024/25 crop year.

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