3 Big Things Today, January 3

Wheat Futures Higher in Overnight Trading; Export Inspections Up For Corn, Down For Soybeans.

1. Wheat Reaches Highest Level in a Month Amid Winterkill Worries

Wheat prices continued to march higher, reaching the highest level in four weeks, on concerns about freezing weather in the Southern Plains and Midwest.

Winterkill likely affected a large part of both the hard red winter and soft red winter crops in the U.S. as wind chills were closed to -20˚F. in some areas. Analysts said they feared widespread damage to wheat plants that didn’t have a protective layer of snow.

Prices on Tuesday closed at the highest since December 1.

While temperatures will moderate through the week, another round of cold weather is on its way to the eastern Midwest, which should further put some winter wheat at risk, Radiant Solutions senior agricultural meteorologist Donald Keeney said in a report on Tuesday.

Wheat for March delivery rose 2½¢ to $4.36 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City futures added 4¢ to $4.38¾ a bushel.

Corn futures were up 1¼¢ to $3.54½ a bushel overnight.

Soybeans for March delivery gained 3¢ to $9.67¾ a bushel. Soy meal added 50¢ to $318.40 a short ton, and soy oil rose 0.25¢ to 33.80¢ a pound.

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2. Export Inspections For Corn Higher Week to Week, Lower For Soybeans, Wheat  

Export inspections of grains and soybeans were mixed last week, as corn checks were higher but soybean and wheat assessments were down.

The USDA said in a report that it inspected 683,898 metric tons of corn for overseas delivery in the week that ended on December 28.  That’s up from 619,893 tons a week earlier and the 638,577 tons inspected during the same week a year earlier.

The weekly inspections report for corn was good news in what’s been a down year. The USDA since the start of the marketing year on September 1 has inspected 10.5 million metric tons of corn for export, well below the 17 million it had examined at the same time a year earlier.

Soybean inspections last week totaled 1.14 million metric tons, and while that’s not a small amount, it’s down from the 1.28 million inspected a week earlier, according to the government. Inspections a year earlier totaled 1.59 million tons.

Inspections so far this marketing year have totaled 28.3 million tons, behind the year-ago level of 33 million tons, USDA data show.

Wheat inspections last week were reported at 274,506 tons, almost half of the week-earlier total of 519,541 tons and down from 407,032 during the same week a year ago.

Since the start of the marketing year on June 1, 14.5 million tons of wheat have been examined for overseas shipment, down from 15.5 million tons a year earlier, according to the USDA.

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3. Deep Freeze Continues in the Midwest, Southern Plains May See Warmer Weather

The deep freeze continues with temperatures today in parts of Iowa and Illinois in the single digits with wind chill as low as -25˚F., according to the National Weather Service.  

The cold air overnight was accompanied by up to a half inch of snow, and strong gusty winds reaching 30 mph are expected to cause drifts and blowing snow that could reduce visibility, the NWS said.

In the Southern Plains, temperatures this morning were hovering around zero, but a warm-up is in sight. The excessive cold is expected to break, and temperatures will rise, bringing relief to overwintering wheat plants that have been hit hard by the cold.

Temperatures in Liberal, Kansas, are expected to rise as high as 46˚F. today and reach the 50s by the weekend.

The same is expected in the eastern Midwest. Still, it’s cold this morning with wind chills around -5˚F., the NWS said.

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