GRAINS-Wheat, corn and soybean futures fall as traders monitor crisis in Ukraine

Band Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, March 18 (Reuters)U.S. grain and soybean futures eased on Friday as traders watched diplomatic efforts to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and assessed continued disruptions to Black Sea crop exports .

More than three weeks after launching its invasion, in what Moscow calls a “special military operation”, the Russian advance has stalled and failed to capture a single major city. Yet a World Food Program official said food supply chains in Ukraine were collapsing, with infrastructure destroyed and many grocery stores empty.

Grain prices have been volatile since the invasion, as importers rely heavily on supplies shipped from Russia and Ukraine via the Black Sea.

Buyers will likely use lower corn prices as an opportunity to secure more supplies, said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage in Iowa.

“It will take some time before grain comes out of Russia or Ukraine,” he said. “Corn buyers from all over the world will have to come to the United States”

The most active Chicago Board of Trade corn contracts CV1 was down 14-1/2 cents at $7.40 a bushel as of 12:15 p.m. CDT (1715 GMT). Wheat Wv1 was down 34 cents at $10.64 a bushel, while soybeans Sv1 slipped 4-1/4 cents to $16.64-1/4 a bushel.

Markets will likely consolidate at high prices until it becomes clearer how long the conflict in Ukraine could last, brokers said.

“The soybean market has turned into a side-trading affair,” Pfitzenmaier said.

Traders are also watching for dry weather on the US Plains and waiting for the US Department of Agriculture to release reports on March 31 on US grain planting intentions and stocks.

Argentine farmers could be hit by a third consecutive La Nina weather event, the Rosario grain exchange said, a potential blow to the upcoming 2022/23 season. The climate model generally brings lower precipitation in the main agricultural regions.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek in Paris, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Subhranshu Sahu, Mark Porter and Jonathan Oatis)

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