Corn prices fell 3 percent Monday on expectations that spring planting will pick up this week in parts of the western Corn Belt because of drier weather.
There are reports that farmers in western Iowa and Nebraska are getting tractors into their fields after a wet, cool spring delayed planting. That is easing concerns about already tight supplies shrinking even more, analysts said.
Some traders sold corn contracts to buy wheat. Dry conditions have plagued the winter crop, prompting speculation that at least some of the acreage has been damaged, Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting LLC President Mike Zuzolo said.
In agriculture contracts for July delivery, corn fell 22 cents to settle at $7.345 a bushel, wheat lost 9.5 cents to settle at $7.9175 a bushel and soybeans slipped 1 cent to settle at $13.93 a bushel.
With the exception of gold and oil, commodities were little affected by concerns about possible retaliatory attacks from extremists after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden Sunday in Pakistan.
"There will be a fear, I think, in the short term in the markets that something might happen in the next week or two," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research. "I do think in the longer term, it suggests likely more stability in the Middle East."
Lynch thinks bin Laden's death eventually may represent a tipping point for global oil and commodities prices, and the exit of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi could remove further uncertainty about oil supplies in the region.
"Right now, partly out of deficit concerns and continuing unrest in Libya and Syria, there's still some demand for safe havens, including commodities," he said.
In addition, many commodities benefited from a weaker dollar. Since commodities are priced in dollars, a weaker dollar makes them more of a bargain for buyers using other currencies.
Gold for June delivery added 70 cents to settle at $1,557.10 an ounce and July silver fell $2.515 to settle at $46.084 an ounce.
July copper rose 1.7 cents to settle at $4.196 a pound, July platinum rose $10.20 to settle at $1,875.70 an ounce and June palladium fell $8.05 to settle at $784.10 an ounce.
In energy contracts, benchmark crude for June delivery fell 41 cents to settle at $113.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Heating oil fell 2.37 cents to settle at $3.2521, gasoline futures lost 5.05 cents to settle at $3.3479 and natural gas settled a fraction of a cent higher at $4.763 per 1,000 cubic feet.