GRAINS-Rain drops U.S. soybeans from 2-month high
* Showers and profit-taking pressure soy and corn
* Pro Farmer crop tour sees below-average soy pod counts
* Tour group reporting above-average corn yield potential
(Updates to include U.S. trading session; adds more analyst quotes, weather detail and updates from Pro Farmer crop tour; changes dateline from HAMBURG/SYDNEY) CHICAGO, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) new-crop November soybean futures on Thursday eased on profit-taking from two-month highs and on better-than-expected rains in the northern U.S. crop belt. "We picked up some rains overnight in northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa, with up to 2.00 inches in LaMars, Iowa," said Sterling Smith, futures specialist for Citigroup. "That's crop country that's been dry for awhile." A turn to warmer and drier weather that was posing a threat to harm the crop had boosted soybean futures to a two-month high earlier in the week. "The showers are moving into Illinois, and it won't be enough to eliminate the problem, but it will buy some time," Smith said. Corn and wheat also turned down following the lower soybean market, with corn finding additional pressure from reports of above-average yield prospects by a Pro Farmer crop tour of the U.S. Midwest crop belt. At 9:50 a.m. CDT (1450 GMT), CBOT November soybeans were down 1-1/4 cents per bushel at $13.02-3/4, new-crop December corn was down 8-1/4 at $4.75, and September wheat was down 3-1/4 at $6.35-1/2. Analysts and traders said choppy and potential volatile dealings were expected on Thursday around the $13 level in November soy. "Weak technicals are in play, too, with congestion at the $13 area in November," Smith said. "If there's an inability to hold above $13, I think fund longs will be a little nervous, and that could bring in some liquidation pressure." "The rally in soybeans has been largely sparked by concerns about crop-threatening weather in the U.S.," Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen said, adding that any signs of improvement to U.S. crops may take some of the steam out of the soybean rally. "Considering the size of the soybean rally, we could correct as far back as $12.60 on the Chicago November soybean contract without a major change to the overall perception of the market," Hansen said. A stronger dollar, potentially damaging for U.S. exports, added pressure to each market, analysts said. "We have seen a big rally in soybeans to two-month highs on Wednesday, which has led to some profit-taking, and the stronger trend in the dollar today has also added some momentum to the downside," Hansen said. "Corn and wheat are being pulled down by the weakness in soybeans. "Overall this is providing a framework for some people to take some risk off the table today." Heavier-than-expected rains fell overnight in portions of the northern U.S. Midwest, which will help boost corn and soybean development, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday. "They were slightly better in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, but the rains have still done very little to ease concerns in the driest areas," said Joel Widenor, meteorologist for Commodity Weather Group. The midweek showers outweighed the support from forecasts for hotter weather across the Midwest by the end of the week, which would increase the threat to soy that is setting pods and to the kernel-filling corn crop.
CROP TOUR SEES BIG CORN YIELDS This week's Pro Farmer tour of crops in the U.S. Midwest has been reporting above-average yield prospects for corn, but soybean pod counts, one indicator of yields, have overall been below average. The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour estimated corn yields in Illinois, traditionally the second-biggest producer after Iowa, at 170.48 bushels per acre (bpa), up sharply from a drought-reduced 121.60 bpa last year and the tour's three-year average of 148.04 bpa. Crop scouts in western Iowa reported an average corn crop and below-average soybean yields, while late plantings and adverse weather over the summer capped yield potential for both grains. Yield estimates were highly variable, and the crop is severely behind its normal pace of development, the crop scouts said. "The problems that we're seeing all go back to the planting process," said Chip Flory, leader of the western leg of the tour. "We were in a field that had four different levels of development. The range of development in some of these fields is really astounding and more dramatic than I expected." The crop tour will draw to a close late on Thursday, and Pro Farmer is expected to issue its forecast for 2013 corn and soybean production on Friday. Pro Farmer will base the final forecast on the tour findings and on internal data.
Prices at 9:54 a.m. CDT (1454 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 496.75 -1.25 -0.3% -28.9% CBOT soy 1341.50 8.50 0.6% -5.4% CBOT meal 424.10 2.60 0.6% 0.8% CBOT soyoil 42.87 0.05 0.1% -12.8% CBOT wheat 635.75 -3.00 -0.5% -18.3% CBOT rice 1564.50 4.50 0.3% 5.3% EU wheat 185.25 -0.25 -0.1% -26.0% US crude 104.24 0.39 0.4% 13.5% Dow Jones 14,955 58 0.4% 14.1% Gold 1374.50 8.76 0.6% -17.9% Euro/dollar 1.3337 -0.0019 -0.1% 1.1% Dollar Index 81.5550 0.3420 0.4% 2.2% Baltic Freight 1158 2 0.2% 65.7%
(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packmanin Sydney; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)