GRAINS-U.S. corn, soybeans climb on Midwest weather jitters

* New-crop corn, soybeans lead gains
    * Forecasts call for hot, dry weather in western Midwest
    * Short-covering noted in corn and wheat
    * Wheat buoyed by recent demand from China

 (Updates with closing prices)
    By Julie Ingwersen
    CHICAGO, July 9 (Reuters) - New-crop corn and soybean
futures on the Chicago Board of Trade rose on Tuesday for a
second straight session on fears that hot, dry weather in parts
of the U.S. Midwest later this month could stress crops, traders
    Wheat rose 2 percent as recent export demand from China and
signs that the U.S. harvest is winding down triggered a round of
short-covering. At the CBOT, September corn settled up 18-1/2 cents at $5.51-3/4 a bushel, while new-crop December ended up 21-1/4 cents at $5.21-3/4. August soybeans rose 12-3/4 cents to end at $14.68-1/4 per bushel, and new-crop November was up 24 cents at $12.76-1/4. CBOT September wheat ended up 14-1/2 cents at $6.77-1/2 per bushel. Weather was in the spotlight, with forecasts calling for potentially stressful hot, dry conditions in the southwestern Corn Belt later this month as the corn crop enters its critical pollination phase. Meteorologist Don Keeney of MDA Weather Services said he expected highs in the mid-90s degrees Fahrenheit and no rain in southern Iowa, Missouri, southwestern Illinois, eastern Nebraska, the northern Delta and Kansas for at least the next 15 days. "It would be yield- and production-impacting weather if we would have that materialize," said Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics in Lafayette, Indiana. "Both corn and bean crops are too small in that region to tolerate that kind of heat." Despite planting delays this spring, U.S. corn and soybeans have benefited from favorable weather in recent weeks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday said 68 percent of the corn
crop was rated in good to excellent condition, up from 67 percent a week earlier. For soybeans, the government rated 67 percent of the crop as good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week and the highest rating for early July since 2004. Optimism about crop prospects pressed CBOT December corn to a 2-1/2-year low last week. Weekly data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Monday showed that speculators sharply expanded their net short position in CBOT corn in the week ended July 2, leaving the market ripe for a short-covering bounce. "Maybe we got ahead of ourselves, pricing a record crop into the balance sheet, and we are seeing short-covering activity there," said Shawn McCambridge, a grains analyst with Jefferies Bache in Chicago. WHEAT CLIMBS ON EXPORT DEMAND Wheat also rose on short-covering as traders continued to digest news that China bought more than 1.3 million tonnes of U.S. wheat in the past week. "We have been oversold for several sessions, and we have had good soft wheat sales to China, so that rekindled some of that supportive environment," said McCambridge. Also, the U.S. winter wheat harvest was winding down in the
breadbasket of the southern Plains, signaling a seasonal market rebound. The USDA said the harvest in Kansas, the biggest U.S. winter wheat producer, was 87 percent complete by Sunday. Nationally, the U.S. winter wheat harvest was 57 percent finished, behind the five-year average of 64 percent. "You expect to see a bottom, seasonally, in the first week of July, when harvest is going and all the bearish news is in," said J. Mark Kinoff, president of Ceres Hedge in Chicago. Traders were also adjusting positions ahead of the USDA's monthly supply/demand reports due Thursday, which could show smaller wheat forecasts for Russia. Two leading analysts lowered their estimates of Russia's 2013 wheat crop on Monday due to drought. "The market will watch closely for Thursday's USDA report and their take on Russian production in wheat," analyst FCStone said in a daily note.  Prices at 3:31 p.m. CDT (2031 GMT) LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 551.75 18.50 3.5% -21.0% CBOT soy 1468.25 12.75 0.9% 3.5% CBOT meal 448.90 6.80 1.5% 6.7% CBOT soyoil 47.02 0.06 0.1% -4.4% CBOT wheat 677.50 14.50 2.2% -12.9% CBOT rice 1519.50 39.00 2.6% 2.3% EU wheat 196.50 3.00 1.6% -21.5% US crude 104.16 1.02 1.0% 13.4% Dow Jones 15,300 76 0.5% 16.8% Gold 1249.39 13.50 1.1% -25.4% Euro/dollar 1.2780 -0.009 -0.7% -3.1% Dollar Index 84.6360 0.4430 0.5% 6.1% Baltic Freight 1120 5 0.5% 60.2% (Additional reporting by Ivana Sekularac in Amsterdam and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by David Evans and John Wallace; Editing by Diane Craft)

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