By Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, March 31 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures rose 2.1% on Friday, climbing back above $15 a bushel for the first time since mid-March after the U.S. Department of Agriculture's forecast for 2023 plantings and its March 1 soy stockpiles estimate both came in at the low end of trade expectations.
Corn futures ended mixed, with nearby contracts rising on bullish U.S. March 1 stocks data, while deferred contracts fell on a larger-than-expected USDA plantings forecast.
Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans SK3 settled up 31 cents at $15.05-1/2 per bushel after reaching $15.13-3/4, the contract's highest since March 13.
CBOT May corn CK3 ended up 11 cents at $6.60-1/2 a bushel while new-crop December corn CZ3 finished down 1/2 cent at $5.66-1/2. CBOT May wheat WK3 settled unchanged on the day at $6.92-1/4 a bushel, anchored by a larger-than-expected USDA wheat acreage figure.
Soybean futures rose after the government projected 2023 plantings of the oilseed at 87.5 million acres, up only slightly from 2022 and near the low end of estimates in a Reuters poll of analysts. The USDA also reported March 1 soy stocks at 1.685 billion bushels, down 13% from a year ago.
"What really sticks out is that the soybean stocks are at the low end of trade expectations. That ... seems to indicate that we could see some price rationing," said Karl Setzer, brokerage research lead with Mid-Co Commodities.
For corn, the USDA pegged quarterly stocks at 7.401 billion bushels, the smallest for March 1 in nine years. Looking ahead to this spring, the USDA projected 2023 corn plantings at 92 million acres, up 4% from 2022.
However, traders cautioned that wet weather in southern reaches of the U.S. crop belt and heavy snow in the Dakotas and Minnesota could complicate plantings in the coming weeks.
"These acreage numbers are all moot unless the snow starts to melt in the northern U.S. Plains," said Ed Duggan, senior risk management specialist at Top Third Ag Marketing.
For the first quarter of the year, CBOT wheat Wv1 fell 12.6%, with corn Cv1 down 2.7% and soybeans Sv1 down 1.2%.
(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen Editing by Marguerita Choy)
((Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org; 1-313-484-5283; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.