GRAINS: U.S. corn slides to 4-yr lows on bright harvest prospects

U.S. corn futures drifted to fresh four-year lows on Tuesday, erasing early gains as favorable weather forecasts bolstered expectations for a bumper harvest, traders said.

Wheat followed corn down. Soybeans closed mostly lower, led by new-crop months, but the spot August contract rose on export demand for U.S. soybeans and soymeal.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, September corn settled down 3-3/4 cents at $3.60-1/4 per bushel after falling to $3.60, the lowest spot price since July 2010. Most-active December corn fell 3-3/4 cents to $3.68-1/4 after setting a contract low at $3.68.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture late on Monday rated 76 per cent of the U.S. corn crop in good to excellent condition, the highest for this time of year in a decade. Some analysts are projecting a national corn yield of 170 bushels per acre, above the USDA’s current forecast for a record high 165.3.

“Corn could not hold early gains and (is) currently trading near the lows on prospects for a large U.S. crop and good to excellent ratings that are at their highest levels since 2004,” said Brad Metzger, a vice president at Futures International in Chicago.

Wheat fell on rising global inventories and strong competition for export business. CBOT September wheat finished down 5-1/2 cents at $5.24-1/2 a bushel but held above a contract low set on Monday of $5.23-3/4.

The slide in wheat appeared to attract export interest. After the CBOT close, Egypt’s main state grain buyer said it was seeking wheat for early September delivery.

In soybeans, front-month August settled up 8-1/4 cents at $11.84 a bushel on export demand and tight supplies of U.S. old-crop soybeans. The USDA on Monday reported sales of 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China for delivery in the 2013/14 marketing year that ends Aug. 31.

But new-crop contracts fell on favorable U.S. crop ratings. Benchmark November ended down 13-3/4 cents at $10.57-3/4 after setting a contract low at $10.57.

“Good weather is the theme that persists,” said Newedge USA analyst Dan Cekander.

USDA rated 73 per cent of the soy crop good to excellent, up 1 point from last week and the highest soybean rating since 1994.

Julie Ingversen writes for Reuters news service in Chicago

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