(AP) — Prices for corn and soybeans are climbing as hopes fade that rain can benefit parched crops across the nation's heartland.
Soybeans rose nearly 3 percent Wednesday and corn was up 1 percent. Wheat also finished higher on growing concerns about global supplies.
Corn and soybean crops have worsened steadily over the past month as a devastating, record drought has taken hold. Corn has been hit the hardest with about 45 percent of the nation's crop in poor-to-very-poor condition.
Many analysts say no amount of rain can repair the damage in corn fields, although it still could benefit soybeans. "The corn crop's gone. It's not going to help corn and beans are still marginal," Telvent DTN analyst Darin Newsom said.
Newsom and other analysts are beginning to predict the corn harvest will produce yields of 130 bushels per acre or less of corn. The last time the yield was that low was in 2002 when farmers harvested 129.3 bushels per acre, he said. It fell near 120 bushels per acre or below in 1995.
Corn and soybean inventories are at low levels heading into the harvest. That has driven prices to record highs in the past week. In turn, food prices could increase up to 4 percent in 2013, the U.S. Agriculture Department predicted.
Corn for December delivery rose 9.75 cents to finish at $7.88 per bushel and November soybeans increased 46 cents to $16.155 per bushel.
Wheat prices are climbing on concerns about adverse weather affecting crops in Russia and the Black Sea region and less than ideal conditions for some of the U.S. spring wheat crop. September wheat rose 24.5 cents, or 2.8 percent, to end at $9.0325 per bushel.
In other trading, gold prices topped $1,600 an ounce for the first time in nearly three weeks on speculation that some central banks, including the Federal Reserve, will take steps to promote economic growth.
Gold for August delivery rose $31.90 to finish at $1,608.10 an ounce. September silver increased 65.5 cents to $27.466 per ounce.
September copper gained 2.15 cents to end at $3.3745 per pound, October platinum rose $12.80 to $1,399.40 an ounce and September palladium ended up $3.65 at $565.25 per ounce.
In energy contracts, benchmark oil gained 47 cents to end at $88.97 per barrel. Heating oil rose 1.96 cents to $2.844 per gallon, gasoline fell 3.19 cents to $2.7929 per gallon and natural gas ended down 11.7 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $3.07 per 1,000 cubic feet.