GRAINS-US soybeans at 3-week top, corn firm on warm weather f'cast
* November soybeans climb to highest since July 25
* Corn ticks up after Wednesday's strong rally
* Concerns over hot, dry weather underpin corn, soy
(Adds details, quotes) SINGAPORE, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose to a three-week high on Thursday as forecasts of hot and dry weather in parts of the U.S. Midwest added to concerns over declining crop yields. New-crop corn edged up, building on last session's 1.8 percent rally on weather concerns, while wheat was little changed following Wednesday's modest gains. "The key for beans is that the USDA cut yield prospects on Monday and the situation today is that there is nothing in the near-term weather forecasts to reverse the concern over yields," said Brett Cooper, senior markets manager at INTL FCStone Australia. "We are months away from getting a real handle on final yields in beans and it is obviously going to be dependent on the weather." The latest weather forecasts for the U.S. crop belt suggest drier conditions over the coming weeks which could begin trimming yield potential. Drier weather is expected for the Midwest through the end of August and warmer temperatures were slated to arrive beginning next week, said Joel Widenor, meteorologist for Commodity Weather Group. In its monthly supply-demand report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated the soybean crop at 3.255 billion bushels, up 8 percent from last year, but more than 2 percent below trade expectations. The USDA, in its first field-based survey of the crop, put the average yield at 42.6 bushels per acre (bpa), against 44.5 bpa projected in July. Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans rose 0.7 percent to $12.47-1/2 a bushel by 0252 GMT, while December corn added 0.2 percent to $4.56 a bushel. The warmer weather will help accelerate crop development, which has been lagging this season following late spring planting and cooler summer temperatures, but will also erode soil moisture levels. The limited rainfall is forecast to arrive at a critical time for corn, which is currently filling pollinated ears with grain, and soybeans, which are adding and filling pods. Commodity funds bought a net 10,000 corn contracts, 5,000 soybean contracts and 1,000 wheat contracts on the day, trade sources estimated. Argentina will plant 3.56 million hectares of corn for commercial use in the 2013/14 crop year, down from 3.68 million hectares in 2012/13, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said. The South American country is the world's No. 3 corn exporter as well as a major supplier of soybeans, soyoil and soymeal. Wheat futures were largely unmoved amid forecasts for heavy global production, though declines were limited by spillover support from the firmer corn market. Spot-month wheat was unchanged at $6.30-1/2 a bushel. Russia is likely to increase its monthly wheat exports to at least 2.5 million tonnes in August and September after it shipped 2.0 million tonnes in July, Andrei Sizov, chief executive of agricultural analysts SovEcon, said on Wednesday.
SovEcon estimates total grain exports will rise to more than 3 million tonnes in August and September from 2.5 million last month, Sizov told the Thomson Reuters online Global Ags Forum.
Prices at 0252 GMT
Contract Last Change Pct chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 642.25 -0.50 -0.08% 865.82 31 CBOT corn 456.00 0.75 +0.16% 757.11 33 CBOT soy 1247.50 8.50 +0.69% 1572.13 49 CBOT rice $15.25 -$0.01 -0.07% $15.48 41 WTI crude $107.19 $0.34 +0.32% $89.55 63
Euro/dlr $1.329 $0.100 USD/AUD 0.917 -0.138
Most active contracts Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight RSI 14, exponential
(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Richard Pullin)