If there was a turnaround theme this Tuesday, it was that soybeans took over from corn as investors row crop selling target of choice.
Not that corn was going gangbusters in late deals, standing down 0.7% at $4.57 ½ a bushel for December delivery.
But November soybeans, having staged a recovery to close the last session with gains, struggled to repeat the fear this time, standing down 1.4% at $11.66 ½ a bushel at 12:45 Chicago time (18:45 Uk time), within an ace of a 14-month low for the contract hit earlier.
'Weather leans negative'
One problem for bulls was the weather, which remains benign, with rains in the forecast as the US crop approaches its critical time of pod-setting.
(Corn's sensitive pollination phase is largely past.)
And the western Corn Belt, where dryness has been raising concerns, has already received some rains this week.
"Weather leans negative for prices, with slightly better prospects for Thursday/Friday rains from central Illinois through central Ohio," Richard Feltes at broker RJ O'Brien said.
Besides, the condition of both the US soybean and corn crops improved last week by one point to 64% good or excellent, US Department of Agriculture data overnight showed.
'Basis has come back briskly'
While the USDA did announce the sale of 110,000 new crop soybeans to China, the impact was offset by the prospect of an auction of Beijing reserves of the oilseed on Thursday, raising questions about further orders for now.
Furthermore, the upbeat estimates for Brazil's soybean crop for harvest early in 2014 are getting more airing, with Celeres putting the harvest at 85.1m tonnes, a little above the USDA estimate.
"High end 2014 Brazil soybean production forecasts will be negative undertow on row crop prices," particularly later in the year, after the US crop is clarified, Mr Feltes said.
At least near-term contracts did better, helped by a revival in US cash markets, whose collapse two weeks ago gave futures a leg down.
"The producer selling has come to a halt on this break and thus the basis has come back briskly," US Commodities said.
August soybeans lost a relatively small 0.6% to $13.22 a bushel in Chicago, where September corn added 0.6% to $4.72 a bushel.
The picture in corn was complicated by an official US announcement on the ethanol mandate which will lower the level for 2014, but by an unknown amont as yet.
"Obviously, this is not positive news, but it is a little too early to say it is overwhelmingly bearish," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said..
That helped eased some of the pressure on wheat, in which the September contract outperformed a little in Chicago, adding 0.4% to $6.47 ¾ a bushel.
The December lot proved more nervous, adding 0.3% to $6.59 ½ a bushel under continued focus on its premium over December corn.
"The trade may also take some profits on short corn/long wheat spreads," Benson Quinn Commodities said.
However, the broker added that prices "are ripe for a modest recovery, if the funds don't continue to provide an offer", an outcome that did not occur in late deals, as Egypt unveiled a fresh purchase of Black Sea wheat at prices similar to those last week.
Paris wheat for November recovered from a contract of E183.00 a tonne low set earlier to nudge 0.1% higher to E184.25 a tonne, as the Egypt tender results showed French wheat prices closer in contention with Black Sea ones.
Coffee protests ahead?
A weaker dollar helped too, in falling 0.6% against a basket of currencies, so making cheaper dollar-denominated exports, including many commodities.
However, arabica coffee was down 1.2% at 118.25 cents a pound in late deals even though the dollar weakened 0.5% against the Brazilian real, a factor which should in theory underpin dollar prices of assets in which the South American country is a major player.
Instead, the market expressed disappointment at Brazil's failure on Monday, as had been billed, to unveil support measures for the sector.
"Producers had been seeking for help from the government regarding the low coffee prices which was now below production costs," Joyce Liu at Phillip Futures said.
"The government was supposed to shed some light on a program that would see them purchasing 3m bags of coffee to support prices.
"However, the lack of an announcement could result in coffee growers holding protests."