Early Call On Chicago

26/04/11 -- The overnight grains closed lower with beans down around 8-10c, wheat off a similar amount and corn down 4-6c.

Crude oil is flat and so too is the dollar.

Saudi Arabia bought 275,000 MT of US/Australian wheat and Iraq 300,000 MT split between the same two origins over the long weekend. Japan is looking for 342,518 MT of wheat this week of which 164,000 MT is US origin.

The USDA last night reported corn plantings at only 9% complete, up just two points in a week, and well below the 23% five year average.

Spring wheat plantings also lag at 6% against 25% normally and 39% last year. Winter wheat ratings good/excellent fell from 36% to 35% and poor/very poor increased from 38% to 40%. In Oklahoma only 5% of the crop is rated in the top two categories.

"Wheat producers in North Dakota are looking to begin fieldwork, not seeding, by May 6. It would be the latest date for ground preparation in the decade," say Martell Crop Projections.

"Kansas wheat areas are finally getting rain late in April. Showers have produced some useful rain in the past few days, but less than 20% of wheat has benefited from widely scattered showers," they add.

European winter wheat conditions also remain a concern, as too must the slug-like pace of Russian spring plantings, where little more than a million hectares have so far been seeded against a government target of 30 million.

Stats Canada say that Canadian farmers will plant 24.724 million acres of wheat this year, 17.4% up on 2010. Rapeseed plantings are also seen sharply higher - up 14.3%.

Celeres say that the Brazilian soybean harvest is 91% complete and in Argentina the Ministry there say it's 52% done.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn 4-6c lower, wheat down 6-8c, beans down 8-10c.