* Strong export demand underpins EU wheat prices
* Low corn prices may curb rise in U.S. acreage
By Nigel Hunt
LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures were lower on Friday, weighed down by a U.S. government forecast of 2016 planted acreage which was well above market expectations.
May corn on the Chicago Board of Trade was off 0.6 percent at $3.49-1/4 a bushel at 1136 GMT. The contract slid to a low of $3.47-1/2 on Thursday, the weakest level for the front month since early September 2015.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed U.S. farmers are planning to boost corn seedings by 6.4 percent this year to 93.601 million acres (37.88 million hectares), which would be the third-highest level since 1944.
“The USDA estimate is more than what everyone expected,” said Kaname Gokon at the Okato Shoji brokerage in Tokyo. “They are looking at corn acreage more than last year.”
Some dealers, however, noted the USDA survey reflected farmer intentions in the first half of March and the recent decline in prices may have diminished their appetite to plant the crop.
“Some market participants believe that the corn acreage will ultimately turn out to be smaller than that forecast by the USDA yesterday,” Commerzbank said in market note.
“In view of the latest slump in the corn price and the recent much better performance of the soybean price, it cannot be ruled out that many farmers may change their minds at short notice and sow soybeans instead,” the bank said.
CBOT May soybeans rose 2-1/4 cents or 0.25 percent to $9.13 a bushel.
The report was supportive for soybean prices. Soybean seedings were seen at 82.236 million acres, which would be the third-highest ever, but below the average trade forecast.
CBOT wheat futures also eased with May off 2-1/2 cents or 0.5 percent at $4.71 a bushel while Paris wheat futures were higher with May up 0.75 euros or 0.5 percent at 153.50 euros a tonne.
Dealers said wheat prices in the EU were supported by strong export demand although there were concerns the pace may be curbed by the recent strength of the euro against the dollar.
Official EU data showed the bloc awarded another big volume of soft wheat export licences this week, with 969,000 tonnes cleared following just over 1 million tonnes last week.
“There is steady demand with a good line up of ships being loaded in German ports. But the stronger euro will be bad for German export prospects in our window of sales opportunity before the new Black Sea harvests,” one German trader said. (Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Michael Hogan in Hamburg, editing by David Evans)