Soybeans were in demand on Tuesday, helped by bullish news on Chinese exports, with wheat too emerging refreshed from the three-day weekend in the US.
The signals from external markets may not have been great, with oil slipping on expectations that this week's meeting of Opec, the producers' cartel, would not further cut output.
Meanwhile, Tokyo stocks closed down 0.4% and the dollar pulled off its five-month low against a basket of major currencies after a warning on German banks hurt the euro.
But that didn't stop soybeans making some early headway, adding 3 cents to $11.69 a bushel for Chicago's benchmark July contract at 06:25 GMT, with new-crop contracts making even bigger gains. January 2010, for instance, added 11.25 cents to $10.41 a bushel
The contracts were helped by a report from China's Commerce Ministry forecasting a record 4.29m tonnes in the country's soybean imports this month, with purchases set to remain high.
Meanwhile, wheat hit its highest levels since mid-January, helped by lingering concerns over planting America's spring crop.
July wheat added 3 cents to 6.15 ½ a bushel, with forward contracts showing similar gains.
Corn was Chicago's odd-man out, with profit taking blamed for a 1.5 cent slip to $4.28 ¾ a bushel for the July contract. Some new crop contracts did better, with May 2010 adding 2.25 cents to $4.71 a bushel.
Palm oil also lost ground amid talk of Malaysian output proving stronger than had been feared last week.
Bursa Malaysia's benchmark August contract ended the morning session down 7 ringgit top 2,438 ringgit a tonne.
Palm oil has now retreated more than 14% from its highs of earlier this month, although it remains more than 40% up in 2009.
By Mike Verdin