eCBOT Close, Early Call

the overnights closed firmer, with beans up modestly on old crop, but around 7-8 cents firmer on new crop, wheat closed around 4-5 cents firmer and corn 2-5 cents higher.

A surprise deterioration in crop condition ratings from the USDA after the close last night, and a correction from a sharply weaker close set the tone for trade.

A weaker dollar and slightly firmer crude oil also helped.

Good to excellent ratings for corn fell one point, beans two and spring wheat four, contrary to expectations of a slight increase. Those cheeky chappies at the USDA like a nice surprise don't they!

US weather is largely non-threatening, and should be conducive for reasonable crop development, although there is little doubt that things are a bit behind normal.

Only 14% of the soybean crop is blooming compared to the five year average of 24%, and only 8% of corn is silking compared to the five year average of 16%.

Wheat is being harvested in Ukraine and parts of Russia, early reports suggest slightly disappointing yields, and lower production. Drought in Canada is also a concern for wheat and rapeseed.

The API is expected to reduce crude oil stocks by around 2 million barrels later today, although gasoline inventories are expected 750,000-1 million higher.

European stocks are slightly firmer, and the Dow Jones IA is expected to open a tad higher.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 3 to 5 higher; old-crop soybeans 2-3 higher, new-crop soybeans called 5 to 10 higher; September CBOT wheat called 4 to 5 higher.