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U.S. Crop Tour Fails to Boost Markets After Bearish USDA Report

By Mark Weinraub

WINTERSET, Iowa, Aug 24 (Reuters) - A tour studying the condition of corn and soybean fields in major U.S. producing states that many people expected would counter the government's massive production outlook has largely confirmed that another huge harvest is on the way.

Futures markets were jolted when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecast higher than expected yields for corn and soybeans on Aug. 10, as they had priced in farmers' warnings of less-than-ideal conditions.

"People looked at the USDA report and were surprised that the corn yield was not lower and shocked the soybean yield went up," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.

"The skeptics were looking to the tour to see if the yields weren't there. What they found on the tour wasn't shockingly different than the USDA," said Roose, who participated in the tour.

A record 146 scouts - including farmers, traders and agricultural economists - took part in this year's tour, checking fields across the largest U.S. production states for corn and soybeans. More than 2,000 fields have been surveyed during the first three days of the tour, which ends on Thursday.

While results from the tour's surveys have been mixed so far, the findings have done little to bolster a bullish case for prices, with even the smaller yield calculations and pod counts insufficiently small to move the market.

Corn yields in South Dakota, Illinois and western Iowa were mostly below average while Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana were calculated as better than usual.

Soybean fields were showing bigger-than-average soybean pod counts in Indiana and smaller-than-average pod counts in Ohio, western Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota.

Chicago Board of Trade corn futures have sagged another 2.7 percent this week, staking out a new low. CBOT November soybeans were down 0.8 percent. Both contracts track the crops that will be harvested this fall.

Doug Miller, a farmer in Greene, Iowa, who was also on the tour, remained skeptical of the USDA's forecasts but said thoughts of a corrective rally had faded after scouting better-than-expected crops in Indiana and Illinois this week.

"After the yields that have come in the last two days on tour, it was not as bad as I was anticipating," he said.

But Miller noted that an early frost could still cripple late-developing crops that crop scouts have found in their field stops.

"Mother Nature is the trump card," he said.

(Additional reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago and Karl Plume in Coralsville, Iowa; Editing by Jo Winterbottom and Matthew Lewis)

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