Short covering reportedly boosted corn futures Monday. Tomorrow’s big USDA Grain Stocks and Prospective Plantings reports could spark strong reactions in the crop markets, so traders were probably squaring positions beforehand. Indeed, wire service reports cited short-covering for today’s early corn strength. Concurrent wheat gains likely pulled corn higher as well. May corn futures gained 3.5 cents to $3.945/bushel late in Monday’s session, while December added 3.5 to $4.1825.

The soy complex ended the day narrowly mixed. The crop industry seemingly suspects Tuesday’s USDA reports will prove rather bearish for the 2015 soy outlook, which would explain last week’s sustained weakness. Prices began this week firmly, possibly reflecting ideas that recent losses were overdone. As with corn, short-covering seemed to dominate early trading, but prices flattened toward the close. May soybean futures ended Monday having inched up 0.5 cent to $9.6775/bushel, while May soyoil skidded 0.11 cents 30.49 cents/pound, and May meal rose $1.8 to $323.2/ton.

The wheat markets reacted strongly to spotty weekend rains. Wheat futures marched higher Friday as they recovered from Thursday’s big breakdown and built on the rally today. Wire service reports cited uneven weekend rainfall over the southern Plains wheat region for the much of the rise. Also, the potential results of Tuesday’s USDA reports are focusing the industry’s attention as well. May CBOT wheat jumped 22.5 cents to $5.3025/bushel in late Monday action, while May KC wheat leapt 23.25 cents to $5.7625/bushel, and May MWE wheat surged 15.75 to $5.9075.

Cattle ended Monday mostly higher. Cash cattle prices climbed $2.0/cwt to around $165/cwt (cents/pound) last Friday afternoon, which triggered a sizeable opening follow-through to last Friday’s rally. However, last week’s late surge seemingly anticipated the cash strength, since futures turned sharply lower soon after the opening. Conversely, a late comeback left most contracts slightly higher at the close. April cattle futures settled down 0.12 cents at 162.50 cents/pound Monday, while August cattle bounced 0.32 to 150.27 cents/pound. Meanwhile, April feeder cattle futures fell 0.65 cents to 218.62 cents/pound, and August feeders sank 0.32 to 218.90.

CME hogs reacted well in the wake of the USDA report. Last Friday’s quarterly USDA Hogs & Pigs report was interpreted as being generally bearish. However, preceding futures losses apparently anticipated a negative result, since futures closed unanimously higher today. The hog market atmosphere doesn’t seem promising, but is showing increasing signs of firmness after months of large losses. April hog futures crept 0.17 cents higher to 61.30 cents/pound as the CME pit session ended, while June advanced 0.55 to 75.55.

Cotton futures took a surprising tumble Monday afternoon. The cotton market seemed set to rise as Tuesday’s Prospective Plantings report loomed, then suffered a surprising early-afternoon drop. Short-covering and equity market gains seemed to offer morning support, but concurrent U.S. dollar strength probably worked against bulls. Prices then fell sharply as traders ran for the exits after technical support was breached. May cotton tumbled 1.03 cents to 62.52 cents/pound at Monday’s ICE settlement, while December futures dropped 1.03 to 63.65.