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GRAINS-Corn futures jump to 3-yr high as U.S. farmers struggle to plant

Naveen Thukral

* Corn jumps 4 pct in early Asian trade, wheat up 3.2 pct

* USDA said 58% of corn crop was planted, below 90% average pace

SINGAPORE, May 29 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures rose 4% on Wednesday to their highest since 2016 after a U.S. government report showed planting across the Midwest lagging way behind the average pace for the time of year. Wheat rose to a 3-1/2 month high as short-covering by funds buoyed the market, while soybean prices climbed to a 1-month peak. "The U.S. Midwest remains too wet for planting in many locations," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. "Weekend rain was perhaps somewhat heavier than forecasters were expecting. And forecasters also have wet conditions continuing for much of this week." Private forecaster Commodity Weather group predicted that most of the Midwest would see minimal breaks in rain during the next 10 days, providing limited opportunity for fields to dry out and farmers to make progress between the showers. The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade gained as much as 4% to a peak of $4.37 a bushel, the highest since June 2016. Corn futures are up more than 17.5% since mid-May, thanks in part to a major short-covering spree by large speculators who have bought the equivalent of over 1 billion bushels of corn futures during that period. Wheat gained as much as 3.2% to $5.21 a bushel, the strongest since mid-February, while soybeans added as much as 2.9% to $8.81 a bushel, the highest since late April. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 58% of corn crop was planted as of May 26, well below the average pace of 90% at this time of the year. The agency, after the market closed on Tuesday, said 29% of the soybean crop was planted, below the average of 66%. Analysts had been expecting corn planting to be 63% complete and soybean planting to be 31% complete. The wet weather is also hurting the winter wheat crop which is due to be harvested in the months ahead. The USDA said 61% of the U.S. winter wheat crop was in good-to-excellent, down from 66% a week ago but above last year's 38%.

Grains prices at 0131 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSICBOT wheat 516.25 11.50 +2.28% +5.46% 453.08 85CBOT corn 432.75 12.50 +2.97% +7.05% 373.90 89CBOT soy 879.00 23.00 +2.69% +5.94% 847.42 74CBOT rice 11.65 $0.00 +0.00% +0.82% $10.92 93WTI crude 58.81 -$0.33 -0.56% +0.31% $62.49

Currencies

Euro/dlr $1.117 $0.001 +0.07% -0.25%USD/AUD 0.6926 0.000 +0.06% +0.13%

Most active contracts Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight RSI 14, exponential

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Joseph Radford)