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CHICAGO, May 29 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures rose 1.6 percent on Wednesday, hitting their highest since mid-April on support from concerns that planting delays in the U.S. Midwest will lead to a sharp cutback in acreage as well as harvest yields, traders said.
The jump followed a U.S. Agriculture Department report after the market close on Tuesday afternoon which showed that just 29% of the soybean crop had been planted, well below the average of 66%.
"The numbers last night were shocking, illustrating just how saturated the soils are in the Midwest," Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED&F Man Capital said in a note to clients. "As each day progresses, we are getting an insidious yield drag on the beans that do get planted."
Corn futures ended lower, retreating from their highest in nearly three years on a round of profit taking as well as some commercial hedging. But the USDA report, which showed farmers still had 39 million acres of corn to plant, kept a floor under the market.
Chicago Board of Trade July soybean futures ended up 16 cents at $8.72 a bushel. The most active soybean contract topped out at $8.92-3/4 a bushel, the highest since April 16.
"I think the market is getting a little bit of a sense of reality," said Bill Gentry, managing director, agriculture consulting for Risk Management Commodities, adding "Agronomically, the yield drag on what is going to be planted from here on out is going to be significant."
Even if farmers manage to make rapid progress on their seeding tasks in the coming days - an unlikely prospect due to forecasts for more rain across the Midwest - they are still facing production shortfalls due to the delays, Gentry added.
CBOT July corn was 1-1/2 cents lower at $4.18-3/4 a bushel. The most active contract peaked at $4.38 a bushel, its highest since June 2016.
USDA said on Tuesday afternoon that 58% of the corn crop had been planted as of May 26, well below the average 90% for this time of the year.
Analysts had been expecting corn planting to be 63% complete and soybean planting to be 31% complete.
Wheat futures were lower on profit-taking after two days of strong gains pushed the most active contract to a 3-1/2-month high.
CBOT July soft red winter wheat futures ended down 14-1/4 cents at $4.90-1/2 a bushel, closing near its session low.
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, James Dalgleish and Sandra Maler)