(Recasts, updates with U.S. trading, adds new analyst quote, changes byline/dateline; previous PARIS/SINGAPORE)
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures fell to their lowest in 10 days on Monday, led by a 2.9 percent drop in K.C. hard red winter wheat prices, on forecasts for rain in key growing areas that will provide relief to a drought-stressed crop, traders said.
“Wheat prices are lower, with longs running for cover as the weather market rally threatens a swift collapse,” Farm Futures analyst Bryce Knorr said in a note to clients. “Forecasts show another big storm this week that could bring much-needed rainfall to the southwest Plains.”
The drop in wheat also pulled corn futures lower, while soybeans eased on a bit of profit-taking after hitting their highest in more than a month on Friday.
Concerns about cold weather delaying planting in the United States kept the weakness in corn and soybeans in check.
At 10:12 a.m. CDT (1512 GMT), K.C. hard red winter wheat futures for May delivery were down 14-3/4 cents at $4.81 a bushel. Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat futures were 8 cents lower at $4.64-1/2 a bushel.
“Better weather on the way for a heavily damaged U.S. winter wheat crop now transitioning from boot to heading stage,” Thomson Reuters Agriculture Research analysts said.
Winter wheat has endured drought followed by late frost, and the cold start to spring has also raised question marks about whether farmers will plant extra spring wheat as projected by the U.S. government.
MGEX spring wheat for May delivery was down 8-3/4 cents at $6.08-1/4 a bushel, on track for its biggest daily percentage loss in two weeks.
Investors will get a further indication of crop conditions and planting progress in weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop progress data later on Monday.
CBOT May corn futures were 3-1/4 cents lower at $3.83 a bushel. CBOT May soybeans were off 5-1/2 cents at $10.48-3/4 a bushel.
Drought-hit soybean production in Argentina is expected to keep a floor under the oilseed market, but strong yield prospects in Paraguay and Brazil were limiting price support.
Good domestic demand for soybeans also was underpinning U.S. prices. A monthly National Oilseed Processors Association report, set for release at 11 a.m. CDT (1700 GMT) was expected to show record crush of 168.247 million bushels during March. (Additional Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore Editing by Edmund Blair and Jonathan Oatis)