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3 Big Things Today, July 18

Beans, Corn Higher in Overnight Trading; Subsoil Moisture Worsens Week to Week.

1. Beans, Corn Rise on Lower Crop Conditions, Bargain Hunting

Soybeans and corn were higher in overnight trading as prices continue to ride the wave of lower crop conditions.

Soybeans were rated 69% good or excellent as of Sunday, down from 71% a week earlier, according to the USDA. Corn was 72% good or excellent, down 3 percentage points from the previous report.

It’s been hot in much of the Midwest in recent weeks, though ample rain has fallen, keeping ratings above their normal levels for this time of year. Still, continued hot weather in several states is sapping moisture from the soil, and overnight temperatures in some areas aren’t getting low enough for optimal crop production.

That, along with extremely low prices that are attracting importers, end-users, and speculative buyers, is giving prices a boost.

Wheat futures also rose overnight.

Soybean futures for November delivery rose 6¼¢ to $8.61½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added $1.90 to $329.10 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.27¢ to 28.40¢ a pound.

Corn future for December delivery added 2½¢ to $3.62¼ a bushel overnight.

Wheat for September delivery rose 5½¢ to $5.03¼ a bushel, while Kansas City futures gained 5¼¢ to $4.96 a bushel.

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2. Subsoil Moisture Drops Dramatically in Some States Despite Lofty Crop Conditions

Crop conditions are fairly lofty for this time of year, but spotty showers last week left subsoil moisture levels down week to week, a development that bears watching in some states.

Nationally, about 37% of the land in the lower 48 states saw short to very short subsoil moisture conditions, according to the USDA. That’s up 5 percentage points from only seven days earlier.

Some Corn Belt states saw dramatic increases in the number of acres where subsoil moisture was lacking, the USDA said in a report on Tuesday.

Indiana, for example, was 35% short to very short, up from only 15% a week earlier. Next door in Illinois, the percentage of land that had the lowest ratings jumped 8 percentage points to 24%, according to the report. Michigan saw a 17-point increase to 62%.

Gains were less dramatic in Iowa, where the amount rose 2 points to 16%, and in Nebraska, where 23% was short to very short, went up 3 points. In Missouri, however, the amount jumped 10 points to 74%, and in Arkansas it was up 9 points to 71% short or very short, the USDA said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, meanwhile, shows that outside of the southwestern U.S., drought conditions are the worst in parts of northern Missouri and eastern Kansas where “exceptional” droughts are being seen, the worst-possible rating.

Despite the dry weather, the corn crop was rated 72% good or excellent, but that’s down from 75% the prior week. Some 69% of soybeans earned top ratings, down 2 percentage points from seven days earlier, according to the USDA.

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3. Severe Thunderstorms Expected in Parts of Eastern Nebraska, Western Iowa

Severe thunderstorms are expected in parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa this afternoon and evening, mostly north of Interstate 80, according to the National Weather Service.

Storms are expected to develop along the border between Nebraska and South Dakota this afternoon, then move into northeastern Nebraska.

“Storms then move southeast across the area through the late afternoon and evening,” the NWS said. “Damaging winds and large hail will be the primary hazards. However, an isolated tornado could also occur in Nebraska with initial storm develop. Locally heavy rainfall may accompany the severe storms.”

Minor flooding is also a possibility along the Missouri River all the way south to Rulo.

Farther east, scattered storms are forecast for parts of eastern Iowa through Friday, though the storms are not expected to be severe, the NWS said in a report early Wednesday morning.

“There is a low potential for severe storms, and the Storm Prediction Center has placed a marginal risk over much of the outlook area for both days,” the agency said. “The main severe weather risk is damaging winds. Locally heavy rainfall will also be possible.”

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