Wheat climbs as dry weather lingers over Kansas

AP News
Posted: May 25, 2012 4:34 PM
Wheat climbs as dry weather lingers over Kansas

Wheat prices rose 2.6 percent Friday as questions persisted about how much dry weather has affected the crop in Kansas.

The gain capped what has been a wild month for wheat. In the past two weeks, wheat prices have climbed to a high for the year and nearly hit a 2012 low, largely because of weather issues. Wheat for July delivery ended up 17 cents Friday at $6.80 per bushel.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said this week that about 43 percent of the Kansas crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of May 20. That compared with 52 percent the previous week.

Northstar Commodity analyst Jason Ward said Kansas farmers have reported good protein levels and test weights on their winter wheat. "The crop is definitely reduced but maybe not as much as we thought it would be," he said. "With three straight weeks of heat like they've taken on, it probably could have been worse."

He said that any problems that occur likely will be in western Kansas. "That's where the dryness is the worst," Ward said.

Global wheat supplies remain plentiful heading into this year's harvest.

It has been that dry spell over the Midwest and dry weather in Russia that have bounced wheat prices in May. The price fell to $5.97 per bushel on May 11, which was about a nickel more than the low of $5.9225 per bushel that occurred in January.

Then, it shot up to $7.04 per bushel on May 21, which was a high for the year, before easing back into the $6 range. For the month to date, the price is up about 3 percent.

In other July agricultural contracts, corn was unchanged to end at $5.785 per bushel and soybeans rose 6 cents to $13.82 per bushel.

Most commodities were higher as investors adjusted their portfolios ahead of the Memorial Day weekend in case there are developments in Europe's debt crisis or other parts of the world that will affect commodities when markets are closed.

Gold for June delivery rose $11.40 to end at $1,568.90 per ounce and July silver increased 22.9 cents to $28.386 per ounce. July copper gained 1.95 cents to $3.448 per pound, July platinum rose $4.10 to $1,426.50 an ounce and June palladium ended up $2.50 at $590 per ounce.

Benchmark oil rose 20 cents to finish at $90.86 per barrel in New York. Heating oil increased 0.69 cent to $2.8288 per gallon, gasoline futures gained 1.64 cents to $2.8929 and natural gas fell 7.9 cents to $2.568 per 1,000 cubic feet.