* U.S. winter wheat and soybean futures highest since 2012

* Concerns about disrupted Black Sea region exports lift markets

* South American soy, corn crop shortfalls underpin prices (Changes dateline from PARIS/SINGAPORE)

(AG Insider/Feb 23, 2022) – U.S. wheat futures climbed to a more than nine year peak on Wednesday and corn notched up a fresh eight-month high as escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions threatened to disrupt supplies from the key Black Sea grain exporting region.

Soybean futures rallied to a 9-1/2 year peak as the conflict also put Black Sea sunflower oil supplies at risk, potentially elevating demand for other vegetable oils including soyoil.

Rising export premiums in Brazil, which would shift demand to the United States, offered additional support.

Ukraine declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and told its citizens in Russia to flee, while Moscow began evacuating its Kyiv embassy in the latest ominous signs for Ukrainians who fear an all-out Russian military onslaught.

Grain and oilseed markets also remain well supported by poor corn and soy crop conditions in parts of South America, although forecasts for dry areas of Argentina and southern Brazil offered some relief.

“All eyes are on what’s happening in Ukraine, especially for wheat and corn exports,” said Brian Hoops, president of U.S. brokerage Midwest Market Solutions.

“The weather (in South America) is starting to improve, but Brazilian farmers are holding off on making any sales so the base levels are rallying significantly. That should push more export business to the United States,” he said.

Chicago Board of Trade May wheat futures were up 30-3/4 cents at $8.83-1/4 a bushel by 12:39 p.m. CST (1739 GMT), the highest for a most-active contract since December 2012.

May soybeans jumped 34-1/4 cents to $16.69-1/4 a bushel, the highest for a most-active contract since September 2012.

May corn gained 8-1/4 cents to $6.80-3/4 a bushel, a level not reached by a most-active contract since last June.

All winter wheat and soy oil contracts and most corn, soybean and spring wheat contracts posted life-of-contract highs in the session.

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