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

* Corn jumps 4%, wheat up 3% * USDA said 58% of corn crop was planted, below 90% average pace (Updates prices, adds quotes) By Naveen Thukral and Sybille de La Hamaide SINGAPORE/PARIS, May 29 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures rose as much as 4% on Wednesday to their highest since 2016 after a U.S. government report showed planting across the Midwest was 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. "Grain markets are focused on the same old song - planting which remains way behind the average pace, and a forecast that does not look to provide any reprieve," brokerage Allendale said in a note to clients. "The questions in discovery now are just how much acreage is lost, and what is the impact on production potential?" Private forecaster Commodity Weather group predicted that most of the Midwest would see only 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 was trading up 4% at $4.37 a bushel by 1054 GMT, after climbing to its highest since June 2016 at $4.38 a bushel. Corn futures are up nearly 18% 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. "It is no longer an exaggeration to say that the corn price in Chicago is skyrocketing," Commerzbank said in a note. Wheat gained 2.8% to $5.19-3/4 a bushel, having earlier hit $5.21-3/4, the strongest since mid-February. Euronext milling wheat futures followed the rise, with front month September hitting a four-month high of 190 euros a tonne in morning trade. Soybeans added 3.7% to $8.87-1/4 a bushel, having climbed to $8.88 a bushel earlier in the session, its highest since mid-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. Technicals called for the bullish trend to continue in corn prices. The most-active contract is expected to break a resistance range of $4.40-3/4 to $4.45-1/2 and rise more towards $5.18-3/4, according to Wang Tao, a Reuters market analyst for commodities technicals. The contract is riding on a fierce wave C, which is capable of travelling to $4.45-1/2, its 100% projection level. Agricultural markets in China tracked gains in CBOT soybeans and corn futures with soybeans, soymeal and rapeseed rallying around 4%. The wet weather is also hurting the winter wheat crop which is due to be harvested in coming months. The USDA said 61% of the U.S. winter wheat crop was in good-to-excellent condition, down from 66% a week ago but above last year's 38%. Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move PrevClo Move 2014 se CBOT wheat 519.25 14.50 2.87 589.75 -11.95 504.75 CBOT corn 437.00 16.75 3.99 397.00 10.08 420.25 CBOT soy 887.25 31.25 3.65 1023.00 -13.27 856.00 Paris wheat 189.50 4.75 2.57 200.75 -5.60 184.75 Paris maize 163.00 -8.75 -5.09 165.75 -1.66 171.75 Paris rape 374.00 4.50 1.22 351.00 6.55 369.50 WTI crude oil 57.95 -1.19 -2.01 53.27 8.79 59.14 Euro/dlr 1.12 0.00 -0.07 1.12 (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Richard Pullin/Rashmi Aich and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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