Wheat and corn prices jumped Wednesday as bad weather continued to create problems for crops in the United States and Europe.
Wheat settled up 6.9 percent and corn rose 4.1 percent as part of a broad rally in commodities that included metals, oil and energy products.
Investors are growing concerned that stockpiles of wheat and corn _ already at low levels _ may shrink even more if harvests are reduced this year.
Cool, rainy weather has delayed planting in parts of the United States, particularly in Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota and North Dakota. Forecasts are calling for more rain, which could put the farmers even farther behind, said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity.
If the rain continues, farmers will have to make a decision on whether to plant corn with less time for it to mature or shift to planting soybeans, said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting LLC.
Meanwhile, dry conditions have prevailed in Russia, Germany and France that could affect wheat production, Zuzolo said. That comes on the heels of a drought last summer that severely damaged wheat crops in the Black Sea region, prompting Russia to impose an export ban.
In contracts for July delivery, wheat jumped 53 cents to settle at $8.17 a bushel, corn rose 29.5 cents to $7.4975 a bushel and soybeans rose 38.5 cents to $13.795 a bushel.
The broad-based rally in commodities came as the dollar grew weaker against other currencies. Commodities are priced in dollars so a weaker dollar makes them more attractive to buyers using other currencies.
Some investors also were looking for bargains after prices for gold, silver, oil and commodities fell over the past several weeks.
CPM Group analyst Carlos Sanchez said he expects prices to continue to climb this week but fall next week as investors take profits. He believes the volatility in the market will continue as investors try to determine a direction.
Gold for June delivery rose $15.80 to settle at $1,495.80 an ounce after earlier hitting $1,500 an ounce.
In other metals contracts for July, silver gained $1.606, or 4.8 percent, to settle at $35.097 an ounce. Copper rose 10.65 cents to $4.105 a pound and platinum rose $18.90 to $1,779.90 an ounce. June palladium rose $22.95 to settle at $737.20 an ounce.
Oil rose 3.3 percent as it benefited from a weaker dollar. Benchmark crude for June delivery gained $3.19 to settle at $100.10 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In other Nymex contracts for June, heating oil rose 6.08 cents to settle at $2.9059 per gallon, gasoline gained 3.62 cents to $2.9555 a gallon and natural gas rose 2 cents to $4.266 per 1,000 cubic feet.