January 31, 2018 / 7:47 PM / 17 days ago

K.C. wheat trading volume hits record high after crop ratings drop

CHICAGO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - K.C. hard red winter wheat futures volume soared to a record of 148,457 traded contracts on Tuesday, CME Group data showed on Wednesday, as prices for the grain rose sharply amid deteriorating crop conditions in the southern U.S. Plains.

The volume surpassed the previous record of 137,038 trades on Nov. 9, 2017, according to exchange records dating back to 1980.

K.C. wheat futures delivered in March gained more than 3 percent to a four-month high during Tuesday’s session and reached a new peak of $4.71-1/4 per bushel on Wednesday, before settling at $4.67-1/4, down 2-1/2 cents.

Some traders were exiting short bets in wheat futures as crop conditions worsened, traders and analysts said. K.C. wheat open interest reached an all-time high of 342,096 contracts on Jan. 25, before easing amid the short-covering this week.

A lack of moisture was stressing wheat plants that were seeded last autumn in the top U.S. growing state of Kansas and in Oklahoma and Texas. HRW wheat primarily is used to make flour for bread.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week rated the Kansas wheat crop 14 percent good to excellent condition, down from 37 percent at the end of December. (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer and Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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