Have soybeans lived up in the US to their nickname there, the "miracle crop"?
The oilseed certainly faced a test in the Midwest, thanks to dry conditions which stretched through August to earlier this month, prompting a round of cuts to yield forecasts, and with expectations of more to come.
But has the crop, as it did light year, managed to make an unexpected recovery thanks to late rains?
'Yield reports have been decent'
The precipitation was initially deemed by many investors to have come too late to rescue all but a few of the later planted soybeans which, being still green, could turn the moisture into extra pod weight.
But certainty in yield downgrades ahead has decreased with some promising reports from the early harvest. (This, of course, representing crops which, being mature were not open to a boost from the rains.)
Benson Quinn Commodities flagged "better than-expected early yield reports tricking in from Illinois, Indiana and Iowa".
Another broker said: "Soybean yield reports have actually been decent considering the lack of rains during August for many of these reporting areas.
"This has probably contributed to some of the weakness in prices."
'Trade remains sceptical'
That said, the broker added: "We would like to see more data out of the field before making any larger assumptions about final soybean production."
At Chicago broker RJ O'Brien, Richard Feltes said: "Unlike corn, where final yield could exceed expectations in wake of high plant populations, favourable pollination, cool post pollination temperatures and extended frost-free growing weather, the trade remains sceptical on final soybean yields."
Mr Feltes cited the "dry finish to summer and the marginal value of late-summer rains in stabilising yield potential".
"Either way, we'll know more by the end of next week as Midwest soy harvest pace accelerates," although he too acknowledged that "thus far, our limited sample of early soybean yields are generally tracking at or above producer expectations".
For now, investors continued to extract a bit of risk premium, just in case yields do come in higher than thought.
And, after all, there is some more rain on the way, besides warm temperatures for the time of year to boost crop development.
"The 6-10 day forecast is calling for above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, northern Iowa, Nebraska and western Wisconsin," CHS Hedging said.
At Phillip Futures, Joyce Liu took a little more generous tack than of late towards the potential for yield revival.
"Rainfall that was widely scattered across the US Midwest was unlikely to improve moisture significantly to boost most of the soybean crop which was too mature but might be able to improve the crops that were planted later," she said.
'Downside is limited'
Not that prices look on for a major correction, Mr Feltes said, noting strong demand, as evident in healthy US export sales.
"We think downside is limited," he said.
The market was "unlikely to erode measurably" until, besides the yield question being cleared up, it was apparent that farmers would have enough soybeans to meet "huge autumn commercial demand for both exports and domestic crush" in the last quarter of 2014.
Still, Chicago soybeans for November fell 0.8% to $13.29 ˝ a bushel as of 09:45 UK time (03:45 Chicago time), extending their decline from an early August high.
US budget battle, again…
And this time, grains were weaker too.
There has been some suspicion that grain market robustness in recent days has been fuelled in part by the unwinding of long soybean-short corn/wheat spreads, which were a common, and profitable, bet earlier in the year when the prospect of a huge US corn crop had yet to wreak too much damage on prices.
However, many risk assets anyway found gains hard to make on Friday as the euphoria at the Federal Reserve decision to delay tapering of asset purchases wore off, to be replaced by concerns at the prospect of yet another round of wrangling over the US budget.
Republican congressional leaders have hardened their line against the White House over an imminent budget showdown.
'Causing some concerns'
However, there were some fundamental reasons for investors to be cautious on grains, nonetheless, the better-than-expected yield results in corn being one.
Mr Feltes is not the only reporting improving ideas on the US corn yield, although it should be noted that that is not a unanimous position, as highlighted by Commerzbank on Thursday.
Still, the rain benefiting soybeans is holding back corn harvest, and so easing harvest pressure on values.
"Showers over much of the Corn Belt are causing some delays for the early harvest," CHS Hedging said, adding that "moisture content in some areas has been on the high side causing some concerns".
Corn for December stood unchanged at $4.59 ˝ a bushel.
Brown Land turns white
Wheat, past pressure from the US winter crop harvest and nearly free of that from the spring wheat harvest too, fell back too, by 0.2% to $6.56 a bushel in Chicago for December delivery.
However, that does not mean that the bullish sentiment, on crop problems and quality concerns, which has fostered a revival in prices has disappeared.
Sure, rains are easing concerns over the Australian crop, with Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia reporting that a "front crossing eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales is bringing showers and alpine snow".
But dryness remains a problem in Argentina, with market talk indeed that the country, the second-ranked wheat exporter in the southern hemisphere, may put limits on its shipments.
Argentina's government, which on Thursday cut its estimate for wheat sowings by 500,000 tonnes to 3.4m tonnes, after all has a record of market invervention.
Furthermore, demand looks strong too, to judge by export data from the European Union and the US, which on Thursday reported weekly export sales of a whacking 704,000 tonnes.
Ms Liu said investors could continue to "expect robust US wheat exports", noting that "the unfavourable crop weather in South America could spur Brazil to purchase US wheat".
Indeed, the rival Black Sea wheat export region, "particularly Russia and Kazakhstan, has quality issues regarding wheat output".
At Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry highlighted that Brazilian purchases were "once again evident" in weekly US export sales, besides rumours that the South American country was turning further afield for supplies.
"There was also talk that Brazil bought two cargos of Polish wheat as concerns about both the Brazilian and Argentine wheat crops mount."
'Less convinced on quality'
Mr Henry also flagged the concerns over Russia, for which "the trade typically buys into production of 51m-53m tonnes, but is less convinced on quality.
"I am not convinced Russia can comfortably export more than 13m tonnes given domestic needs and suspect quality."
And there is underlying technical support too.
"Short-term momentum studies indicate a supportive technical structure, while longer-term momentum studies are shifting to a more supportive stance."
Soft commodities found early headway difficult too, especially given the idea that many of their gains of the last couple of days were based largely on the Federal Reserve boost, now disappearing from markets.
In raw sugar, for instance, "there didn't appear to be any fresh sugar specific news supporting the bounce in prices last night," Mr Mathews said.
"Instead, the catalyst appeared to be the sugar complex playing catch-up to the US Fed's decision to maintain existing levels of stimulus within the US economy, which was announced after the sugar market closed on Wednesday night."
Raw sugar for October eased 0.1% to 17.16 cents a pound in New York, where arabica coffee for December dropped 0.3% to 115.50 cents a pound.
December cocoa fell 0.5% to $2,618 a tonne.
In Kuala Lumpur, palm oil dropped 0.4% to 2,309 ringgit a tonne, weighed by the weak prices elsewhere in oilseeds, in the soy complex.
The decline came despite data from Intertek showing that Malaysian palm exports rose 13.1% in the first 20 days of the month.