Soybeans and wheat held on to finish in positive territory, but they ended well off highs, weighed down by corn futures which refused to follow the bullish script that had been laid out for them.
External markets were helpful enough, underpinned by data showing a pick-up in China's manufacturing sector, and with better-than-expected data on the US labour market too.
First time unemployment claims fell more than forecast, while a much-watched survey by ADP showed companies added 158,000 posts last month, the fastest pace of increase since February.
Wall Street shares traded 1.0% higher, in late deals.
'Will lead to abandonment'
Soybeans and wheat did better than the average commodity, which added 0.4%, as measured by the CRB index.
But that might have been expected, given some of the bullish news around for both crops.
Wheat, for instance, had support from data overnight showing the condition of the US winter wheat crop at its worst since records began in the 1980s, with only 40% of the crop rated "good" or "excellent", as seedlings struggle in ground still dry from the summer drought.
The southern Plains crop "now appears will go into dormancy with about one-third of the belt dry. This will lead to abandonment", US Commodities said.
'Should remain well supported'
Nor does the prospect of rain relief look quite so generous.
The midday run of the GFS weather model "was certainly not as wet for the hard red winter wheat areas as the previous runs", Mr Holaday said.
And Russia's harvest received a further, late, downgrade too by Sovecon, which cut its estimate by 500,000 tonnes to 37.5m tonnes.
"This is the lowest figure since 2003-04 and is below the US Department of Agriculture's estimates. Thus the wheat price should remain well supported," Commerzbank said, noting also the setbacks to US winter wheat, and limited availability of Ukraine supplies.
In fact, Chicago's December lot added 0.5% to $8.68 ½ a bushel, 9 cents below its high, with Kansas hard red winter ending flat at $9.04 a bushel.
In Paris, November wheat added 0.9% to E267.75 a tonne, given some support by a softer euro, while London wheat for November closed down 0.2% at £210.00 a tonne.
'Some loss has likely occurred'
For soybeans, the Chinese factory data, for instance, "has been especially supportive to the soybean complex", Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said, with the country the top importer of the oilseed.
And it had a range of other fundamental supports too, many of which it shared with corn.
For instance, US harvests of both crops may have suffered some, if not substantial, loss to Hurricane Sandy.
The relatively low "amount of corn and soybeans that were not harvested ahead of the hurricane has been supportive to values as some loss has likely occurred", Mr Holaday said.
"Corn cutting in Ohio and Pennsylvania was at 64% on Sunday."
'Causing real issues'
At Allendale, Paul Georgy noted that "cash traders are reporting a slight pick-up in corn and soybean sales after yesterday's rally".
Furthermore, there were the rain delays to Argentine seedings highlighted late in the day by the Buenos Aires grains exchange, whose data implied farmers were some 2.3m hectares behind on sowings, compared with last year's pace.
"Production concerns are now growing in Argentina and Southern Brazil. The wet weather is causing real issues," US Commodities said, noting that more rain may be on the way.
"It is drying out now but it is expected to be wet November 3-7, and also in the 11-to-15 day outlook."
The quality of soybean seed in Argentina is an issue too, the Buenos Aires grains exchange said.
Soybeans for November added 0.7% to $15.58 ½ a bushel, with the better-traded January lot added the same to $15.60 a bushel.
Brazil exports soar
However, while corn spent most of the day in positive territory, recording a 1% gain, and on paper had support from better-than-expected US ethanol production data too, it suffered after data showed Brazil's corn exports not tapering off last month as some investors had forecast.
Shipments rose to 3.66m tonnes from 3.15m tonnes in September, and more than twice the level a year before, and eroding ideas that buyers were being forced to turn to the US for supplies.
Ethanol exports soaring too, to 492.2m litres from 452.7m litres in September.
Technically, there was also some disappointment that the December lot failed to secure a foothold above to its 50-day moving average, after temporarily reaching it, although the contract at least avoided surrendering its 10-, 20- or, in particular, 100-day lines.
The contract closed down 0.7% at $7.51 a bushel.
'More favourable for the bears'
Among soft commodities, New York coffee extended its declines despite the Ice exchange saying that one of its certified coffee warehouses in New Jersey had sustained "some water damage" from Hurricane Sandy.
The December lot fell 0.8% to 153.45 cents a pound, weakened by a continued reluctance by roasters to buy while a weakened technical structure has sent the bean into a round of price falls.
Indeed, talk of Brazilian producers losing patience and selling at low prices has been more the talk of markets.
And raw sugar for March dropped 0.4% to 19.38 cents a pound, with Sucden Financial noting the impact of favourable Brazilian Centre South cane harvesting conditions on sentiment.
"It still seems the medium-term outlook remains more favourable for the bears, on better than expected Brazilian weather, and short-term rallies are probably sell opportunities for the day traders," the broker said.