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GRAINS-U.S. corn turns lower but hot forecasts fuel crop concerns

Barbara Smith

* Forecast warm, dry spell seen as risk after planting delays

* Soybeans choppy, turning higher at times; wheat declines

* Market awaits weekly USDA crop data, monthly forecasts

(Updates prices, adds quotes, changes dateline, previous PARIS) CHICAGO, July 8 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures prices turned lower on Monday, retreating from early strength, on expectations for improved U.S. crop condition ratings, analysts said. However, soybeans were choppy, turning higher at times, on worries about forecasts for hot, dry weather in the U.S. Midwest over the next week. "Hot and dry weather is nice for a week or 10 days," said Dan Basse of AgResource Co. "The ideal situation is warm weather with frequent showers." The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly crop progress report comes out on Monday, and analysts are hoping for some improvements after last week's report showed little progress in harvested crops. Chicago Board Of Trade September corn futures were down 1 cent at $4.37-3/4 a bushel, as of 11:42 a.m. CDT (1642 GMT.) Traders had viewed warmer weather last week as beneficial in helping fields dry out and boost plant development. But forecasts showing heat building further in the next two weeks, with limited rainfall, were causing concern that late-planted corn and soybeans may be stressed. Ahead of the USDA crop progress report, analysts on average expected the government to report a slight improvement in weekly crop condition ratings for corn and soybeans. The USDA last week rated 56% of the corn crop as good to excellent, and just 54% for soybeans. Grain markets are also looking ahead to Thursday's monthly supply and demand forecasts from the USDA. The USDA surprised the market with its June 28 acreage report in which it pegged corn plantings well above trade expectations and soybean acreage lower than anticipated.

"The USDA needs to tread lightly with this report or else they will have egg all over their face," said Roy Huckabay with Linn & Associates, a Chicago brokerage. CBOT August soybean futures were up 2 cents, or 0.23%, to $8.78 a bushel, after falling 1.6% on Friday. Wheat futures fell, halting a two-session climb, despite declining estimates for wheat production in Russia, the world's top exporter. SovEcon and IKAR, the leading agriculture consultancies in Moscow, on Monday downgraded their forecast for Russia's 2019 wheat crop as they continued to assess the negative impact of June's hot, dry weather. CBOT September wheat futures were down 3 cents to $5.12 a bushel.

CBOT prices as of 11:45 a.m. CDT (1645 GMT):

Net Pct Volume

Last change change

CBOT wheat WU9 512.25 -2.75 -0.5 43285CBOT corn CU9 438.25 -0.50 -0.1 116358CBOT soybeans SQ9 877.75 1.75 0.2 16288CBOT soymeal SMQ9 305.60 -0.20 -0.1 10663CBOT soyoil BOQ9 27.92 0.36 1.3 10628

NOTE: CBOT September wheat and corn and August soybeans shown in cents per bushel, August soymeal in dollars per short ton and August soyoil in cents per lb.

(Reporting by Barbara Smith in Chicago Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney Editing by Louise Heavens and James Dalgleish)