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Storms roar, rains fall, markets watch

Jeff Caldwell 04/16/2012 @ 9:21am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Weekend storms brought more than 100 tornadoes and in some cases, up to 6 inches of rain to the nation's midsection. And, the severe weather and moisture came at a key time in the crop year, with the markets sharply focused on the weather and any potential crop losses or interruptions it could cause.

The good news is the rains that fell were just what the doctor ordered for many areas in corn and soybean country where soil moisture was becoming increasingly scarce.

"Rains returned to western portions of the Midwest and northeastern portions of the Plains this past weekend, which significantly improved moisture supplies there," says Don Keeney, meteorologist with MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "This will benefit corn germination as planting increases over the next few weeks."

Weekend rainfall was anything but consistent, though. Totals ranged from just over 1.5 inches in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to almost 4 inches in Des Moines, Iowa, according to Craig Solberg of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines. There were even isolated reports in excess of 6 inches of rain in parts of Missouri, southwestern Iowa and northeastern South Dakota, according to the Commodity Weather Group in Chicago.

Farmers and Agriculture.com Marketing Talk members tell a little different story, though. In parts of northern Iowa, rainfall was lighter, with some even reporting no rainfall over the stormy weekend in north-central parts of the state.

"I had .6 in my gauge yesterday and we had that off-and-on windy rain event last evening/late afternoon," Marketing Talk senior contributor idalivered said Monday morning. "So much wind, I doubt any hit the gauge, though."

The grain markets certainly appear to be taking the weekend's moisture into account going into Monday's session. Early calls for Monday were seen sharply lower after an overnight trading session that saw double-digit losses in the soybean pit and similar slides in corn and wheat.

"Much-needed weekend rain showers across the Midwest dampened bullish enthusiasm, as the moisture will help alleviate dry conditions, analysts say," according to a Dow Jones Newswires report Monday morning.

These moves exemplify what's likely to be the norm in the coming weeks as farmers roll hard to get this year's corn and soybean crops in the ground. It's going to be an up-and-down spring for the trade, with Mother Nature dictating the direction and sharpness of price shifts, according to Agriculture.com Market Analyst Bryan Doherty.

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