Wheat Rises as Abnormal Weather Erodes Outlook for U.S. Crop

(Bloomberg) -- Wheat jumped more than 4 percent, snapping a five-session slump, as a lingering dry spell in the Great Plains and excessive rain in the eastern Midwest diminish yield prospects for U.S. winter crops emerging from dormancy.

Rains expected in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas in the next five days will miss the driest counties, private forecaster Meteorlogix LLC said in a report. Above-average rainfall from Arkansas to Ohio may have damaged some crops. Wheat dropped 16 percent in the five sessions before today.

``We're starting to focus on the weather as farmers in the eastern Midwest try to dry out their fields,'' said Larry Young, a senior trader at Infinity Futures Inc. in Chicago. The western Great Plains ``are going to be a key area,'' he said.

Wheat futures for May delivery rose 41.5 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $9.365 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. The most-active contract has dropped 31 percent from a record $13.495 on Feb. 27 on expectations global farmers would plant more to benefit from a doubling of prices in the past year.

U.S. winter wheat will be harvested in June, and farmers will start planting spring wheat in the next two months.

Parts of western Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and West Texas got as little as 5 percent of normal precipitation in March, according to the National Weather Service. As much as four times the usual amount of rainfall was recorded last month in parts of the eastern Midwest, flooding fields, government data show.

The Department of Agriculture announced U.S. exporters sold 120,000 metric tons of wheat to Egypt for delivery in the year that begins June 1.

``We're keeping our eyes and ears open'' on export sales, Young said. ``You would expect importers to wait for the market to calm down before putting orders in. Now that we've entered that phase, we might get more business.''

Wheat was the fourth-biggest U.S. crop in 2007, valued at $13.7 billion, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show

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