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332747

GRAINS-U.S. corn firms for sixth session in a row; soy weak, wheat strong

(Updates with closing prices)

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures steadied after hitting their highest in nearly two months on Wednesday, underpinned by concerns that hot and dry weather in the Midwest during key crop development periods limited how big the fall harvest will be, traders said.

Wheat futures were strong, notching their fourth straight day of gains, while soybeans eased on profit taking after rallying to a three-week high during the overnight trading session.

Corn futures extended their winning streak to six sessions in a row but settled well below overnight peaks, pressured by some reports of strong yield potential in major production areas of Illinois and Iowa by scouts on the annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour.

But the crops in those production areas were not likely to make up for shortfalls noted in other states.

"When they come out with their numbers tonight, you are going to find that Iowa and Illinois are looking at largely average crops," said Jim Gerlach, president of brokerage A/C Trading in Indiana. "The heat got to this crop."

Chicago Board of Trade corn for December delivery settled up 2 cents at $6.57-1/4 a bushel. Prices peaked at $6.71, the highest for the most-active contract since June 27.

Indiana corn yield prospects are lower than last year and below the three-year average, scouts on an annual tour of America's leading grain producing states found on Tuesday.

Nebraska corn yield prospects and soybean pod counts also are lower than last year and below their three-year averages.

"The way numbers are getting revised lower, it's pretty clear that actual output numbers would be much lower than initial optimism," said a New-Delhi based trader with a global trading house.

CBOT November soybeans ended down 4 cents at $14.57 a bushel and CBOT December soft red winter wheat was up 12-3/4 cents at $8.13-1/4 a bushel. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Rashmi Aich, David Goodman and Mark Porter)

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