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332969

GRAINS-Corn hits 2-month high on concerns heat, dryness reduced U.S. crop

* Corn rises after tour sees smaller crop than USDA

* Soybeans ease as crop tour sees large U.S. harvest

* Ukraine projects higher Black Sea grain exports (Adds closing prices, U.S. crop ratings)

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade corn futures set a two-month high on Monday after a U.S. crop tour last week found damage from hot, dry weather and organizers projected harvests would fall short of government estimates.

Wheat futures rallied to their highest level in about seven weeks, while soybeans fell after the crop tour forecast a large U.S. harvest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a report issued after the close of trading on Monday, rated 54% of the nation's corn crop in good-excellent condition. That was down from 55% a week earlier and in line with analysts' estimates. Ratings for the soy crop were unchanged at 57% good-excellent, above expectations for 56%.

Gains in corn futures reflected market efforts to entice farmers in South America to plant more acres of the grain at a time of supply concerns, said Jim Gerlach, president of broker A/C Trading.

"The market right now is trying to send a signal that, 'We need more corn acres, South America,'" he said.

Most-active corn futures ended up 18-3/4 cents at $6.83 a bushel. Wheat settled up 37-1/2 cents at $8.42-3/4 a bushel, while soybeans fell 23-1/2 cents to $14.37-3/4 a bushel.

After the markets closed on Friday, advisory service Pro Farmer estimated the U.S. corn harvest at 13.759 billion bushels, the smallest since 2019 and below USDA forecasts for 14.359 billion bushels. Scouts on a Pro Farmer tour last week checked crops in hundreds of Midwestern fields.

"The Pro Farmer crop data provided a surprising look," said Jerry Gidel, analyst for Midland Research.

For soybeans, Pro Farmer predicted a crop of 4.535 billion bushels, slightly above the USDA forecast of 4.531 billion bushels. Rains in August helped soybean crops, CHS Hedging said.

In Ukraine, a major corn and wheat supplier, agricultural exports could rise to 6 million to 6.5 million tonnes in October, double the volume seen in July, as its seaports gradually reopen, the country's agriculture minister told Reuters. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Ros Russell, Paul Simao and Sam Holmes)

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