eCBOT Close, Early Call

eCBOT grains closed lower, with beans down 13-15 cents, wheat off 3-4 cents and corn down 3-5 cents.

The USDA are pegging US wheat acres down 5 million to 58m acres this year. With yields also seen lower due to drought conditions at 43bu/acre (from 44.9bu/acre) final production is now pegged 15% lower than in 2008 at 2.12 billion bushels (or 57.7mmt, from 68mmt in 2008).

US farmers are expected to plant 77 million acres of soybeans in 2009 (from 75.7m in 2008), yielding 42.6bu/acre (39.6) to give a final production of 3.24 billion bushels (2.969). That would be the largest production number on record.

Corn is expected to be planted on a similar acreage to last season, they say, at 86 million acres, yielding 156.9bu/acre (153.9) and giving final output of 12.365 billion bushels. That would be the second largest production number in history.

The USDA numbers are bearish soybeans and corn and bullish on wheat. Wheat may struggle to rally however, and seems likely to be dragged lower by the other two pits.

Crude oil is around a dollar and a half lower, and the US dollar is also firmer which may weigh on the complex.

The weather outlook in the US remains a threat to wheat, although drought conditions in China have improved.

For soybeans at least the weather in Argentina has improved crop chances there, with above normal rainfall for most areas during February, except Buenos Aires province. Another round of heavy rainfall next week may also take in some parts of Buenos Aires, according to some forecasts.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: Corn futures are expected to open 5 to 6 lower; soybeans 13 to 15 lower; wheat steady to 3 lower.