GRAINS-Rising crop expectations spark sell-off in U.S. corn, soy futures

(Updates with closing prices; adds details, new analyst quote)

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, Aug 4 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean futures posted sharp declines on Tuesday, with the market focused on expectations for bumper yields across the U.S. Midwest this fall due to forecasts for rain in key growing areas, traders said.

On a continuous basis, corn futures dropped to their lowest level since June 29 while soybean futures hit their lowest level since July 15. Benchmark CBOT December corn futures hit a contract low.

Wheat futures also sank, with the most active Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract shedding 2.4% to its lowest since July 8, on bleak export prospects.

"Globally, there is plenty of wheat in the world," said Mark Schultz, chief market analyst at Northstar Commodity. "We just kind of pick up the scraps on sales."

For corn and soybeans, commodity brokerage StoneX's forecast for a U.S. corn harvest of 15.320 billion bushels and a soybean harvest of 4.496 billion bushels weighed on the markets.

The U.S. Agriculture Department's weekly crop conditions report on Monday afternoon, which rated 72% of the U.S. corn crop as good to excellent and 73% of the soybean crop as good to excellent, bolstered expectations for massive production.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn futures settled down 8-1/4 cents at $3.20-1/4 a bushel. CBOT November soybean futures dropped 14-1/2 cents to $8.81-3/4 a bushel.

"For the beans, it can't get any better than this," Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED&F Man Capital, said in a note to clients. "Record high ratings, rains in the east last week cutting down the dry areas, forecasts of rain for western Iowa next week, cool temperatures. It's soybean heaven."

CBOT September soft red winter wheat was down 12-3/4 cents at $5.08-1/4 a bushel.

MGEX spring wheat and K.C. hard red winter wheat hit new contract lows across the board. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Naveen; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

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