(Rewrites after grains weaken, updates with closing prices)
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean futures weakened on Friday on forecasts for dry weather in the Midwest that will allow farmers to pick up the pace of what is expected to be a record harvest of both crops, traders said.
Wheat futures also eased as investors squared positions ahead of a key government report next week.
The declines in corn and soybeans were kept in check as investors have already digested expectations of a record U.S. harvest this fall. Both commodities notched small weekly gains.
“A lot of bearish news is already out there,” said Chris Robinson, senior trader and analyst at Top Third Ag Marketing. “Everyone is well aware of the fact that harvest is going to be very, very big.”
Strong export demand also lent support to prices despite the bearish harvest outlook.
The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday morning that exporters reported the sale of 195,000 tonnes of soybeans to unknown buyers for delivery during the 2016/17 marketing year.
The new sale followed bullish weekly export data for corn and soybeans from the USDA on Thursday.
Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures settled down 1-3/4 cents at $9.56-3/4 a bushel. CBOT December corn was 3/4 cent lower at $3.39-3/4 a bushel.
For the week, soybeans rose 0.3 percent and corn was up 0.9 percent.
“Corn Belt rains over the past 24 hours have likely complicated things for an already-wet harvest in most areas, but the good news on that front is that additional rains are few and far between,” Matt Zeller, director of market information at INTL FCStone, said in a note to clients. “The rest of the harvest campaign looks like it should move full steam ahead.”
CBOT December soft red winter wheat was down 1 cent at $3.94-3/4 a bushel, posting a weekly loss of 1.9 percent.
Analysts were expecting next week’s USDA report to show that U.S. farmers would probably harvest 15.060 billion bushels of corn this year, based on an average yield of 173.5 bushels per acre.
Soybean production was seen at 4.286 billion bushels, with yields averaging 51.5 bushels per acre, according to the average of estimates by analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Grant McCool)