Wheat Futures Rise as Dry Spell in Great Plains May Harm U.S. Winter Crop

By Whitney McFerron – Oct 12, 2010 11:22 AM ET

Wheat futures rose for the third time in four sessions on speculation that dry weather will harm winter crops that U.S. farmers are planting in the Great Plains.

Fields in Kansas and Nebraska will be dry through Oct. 16 after “a few light showers” today, World Weather Inc. said in a report. Much of Kansas, the largest U.S. winter-wheat grower, has received less than half of the normal amount of rainfall this month, according to the National Weather Service. Wheat futures are up 31 percent this year.

“We are seeding wheat now, and in a good many areas we have some dry conditions,” said Dewey Strickler, the president of Ag Watch Market Advisers in Nashville, Tennessee. “It could be a problem if places receive a little moisture and then it ceases. That will hurt a wheat crop quicker than anything, because if you get moisture and it turns drought, that will kill the sprout.”

Wheat futures for December delivery rose 0.75 cent, or 0.1 percent, to $7.10 a bushel at 10:20 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices were up 7.7 percent in the previous three sessions, including a 60-cent gain, the most allowed by the exchange, on Oct. 8, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its estimate for global wheat stockpiles.

Wheat is the fourth-biggest U.S. crop, valued at $10.6 billion in 2009, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in Chicago at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net.