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UPDATE 1-U.S. corn plantings top expectations despite floods; prices sink

Mark Weinraub

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CHICAGO, June 28 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers planted more corn than expected despite heavy rains and flooding that market watchers had said kept farmers out of the fields for much of the spring, the U.S. government said on Friday.

Soybean acreage came in below forecasts, however. Analysts had expected the data to show farmers had boosted their soybean acres due to the corn planting delays - and many cast skepticism on the Agriculture Department's report. Soybeans can be planted later in the year than corn.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) futures reacted sharply to the news, with corn plunging its daily 25-cent trading limit to its lowest since June 11. CBOT soybeans rallied to their highest since Feb. 1.

The USDA's planting progress reports issued throughout the spring showed corn planting on a historically slow pace.

"I think the USDA is sending the message that corn acres got planted - regardless of what some of these farmers up here in the Midwest see outside their kitchen windows," said Karl Setzer, market analyst for Agrivisor.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's annual acreage report showed that farmers seeded 91.7 million acres of corn and 80.0 million acres of soybeans. That compares with the government's March forecasts of 92.8 million corn acres and 84.6 million soybean acres.

Analysts had been expecting the acreage report to show that farmers had planted 86.6 million acres of corn and 84.4 million acres of soybeans, according to the average of estimates given by analysts in a Reuters poll.

U.S. wheat plantings totaled 45.6 million acres, in line with market forecasts. Wheat futures dropped 3.8 percent.

Lance Honig, crops chief at the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service posted on Twitter that the government will resurvey acreage in 14 states and may release updated acreage totals on Aug. 12.

The USDA also released its closely watch quarterly stocks report, which showed that supplies remained robust after last fall's bumper harvest despite heavy usage.

Soybean stocks as of June 1 totaled 1.790 billion bushels, the largest ever for the period. The soybean stocks drawdown of 937 million bushels during the quarter was the largest ever for the March through May period despite a trade war with China that chilled export demand from the top export market.

Corn stocks stood at 5.202 billion bushels. Corn use totaled 3.411 billion bushels during the period, the second biggest ever.

Wheat stocks came in at 1.072 billion bushels, with a quarterly drawdown of 521 million bushels, the biggest for the period in eight years.

The stocks figures were in line with the ranges of market forecasts. (Additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter; editing by Richard Chang and Jonathan Oatis)