US wheat prices soar after storms hit key regions

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A late winter storm just ahead of harvest has lifted US wheat prices off the floor, as farmers and traders circulated images of stalks flattened by snow.

Hard red winter wheat soared 28.5 cents, or 6.5 per cent, to $4.6575 a bushel Monday on the Chicago Board of Trade. Grown in plains states such as Kansas, it is planted in autumn and usually harvested in late spring.

Perhaps more than any other field crop, the market for wheat has been depressed by a worldwide surplus brought on by favourable weather and large harvests. Last month the July-delivered hard red wheat contract fell to the lowest in the contract’s history.

But the weekend brought 10 to 20 inches of snow in western Kansas, southeastern Colorado and western Oklahoma that toppled plants, said Commodity Weather Group. Farmers posted photos and videos of lush wheat stalks wreathed in white.

Richard Feltes, vice president of research at RJ O’Brien, a broker, said “yield prospects are slipping” in the wheat belt.

Hard wheat is used to make bread. Soft winter wheat, an ingredient in crackers and confectionery, also surged. The CBOT July contract settled up 5.5 per cent to $4.56 a bushel.

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