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GRAINS-U.S. corn, soybeans, wheat futures rally on weather woes

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

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, May 30 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures rose 4.1 percent on Thursday, bouncing back from some technical weakness on Wednesday as traders focused on the historic slow pace of planting in the Midwest.

Prices, which hit their highest in nearly three years this week, needed to continue to rally to entice farmers to seed corn acres past the typical planting date and risk reduced yields at harvest time.

"I think it has to do more work," said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading. "If you are going to ask the farmer to try and plant, you cannot do it at these prices. It does not pencil."

Soybean and wheat futures also posted strong gains.

Soybeans can be planted later in the season than corn but traders said this spring's delays have been so lengthy that much of the soybean acreage would be threatened by the potential for reduced yields. "Beans are creeping up on their own production problem here," Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures said at ED&F Man Capital. "We have massive unknowns about area, and a general ambivalence by farmers to drill the oilseed, and no one is yet trumpeting the potential yield drag due to late planting."

Wheat futures, which followed corn higher, benefited from concerns about excessive moisture in the southern Plains damaging the crop that will be harvested in the coming weeks in that key production region.

Chicago Board of Trade corn for July delivery settled up 17-1/2 cents at $4.36-1/4 a bushel, just 1/2 cent below their session high. The percentage gain for the most-active contract was the biggest daily increase since Nov. 28.

The forecast calls for some dry weather in the eastern Midwest next week before more showers arrive.

"Fairly short windows of opportunity for late seeding still likely to add to significant reductions in Midwest corn acreage," Commodity Weather Group said in a note to clients.

CBOT July soybeans were up 17 cents at $8.89 a bushel.

The contract found support from weakness at its 40-day moving average on Wednesday and during the overnight trading session.

CBOT July wheat was 24 cents higher at $5.14-1/2 a bushel.

While U.S. farmers struggle with excessive moisture, Australian growers are suffering from a third year of drought.

Hot and dry weather will persist across Australia's east coast for at least another three months, the country's weather bureau said on Thursday, in a forecast that threatens to severely crimp agricultural production. (Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London; editing by Alistair Bell and Susan Thomas)

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