- U.S. grain futures ended Friday’s session mixed, with corn prices rallying sharply to hit a two-week high after the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted a smaller harvest than analysts had expected.

On the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, corn futures for March delivery surged 5.04% on Friday to settle the week at USD4.3260 a bushel, the highest since December 26.

Earlier in the day, corn prices fell to a session low of USD4.0638 a bushel, the weakest level since August 2010. The March contract settled down 1.2% on Thursday to end at USD4.1200 a bushel. On the week, the March corn contract advanced 2.12%.

The USDA said the U.S. corn crop that was harvested last fall totaled 13.925 billion bushels, 0.5% lower than its December estimate of 13.989 billion and confounding expectations for a harvest of 14.053 billion bushels.

Corn yields averaged 158.8 bushels an acre, down from an estimate of 160.4 bushels in December. Analysts had been looking for an increase to 161.2 bushels.

The USDA also unexpectedly cut its outlook for corn stockpiles at the end of the 2013-14 season in August by 9% to 1.631 billion bushels. Analysts had forecast the inventories estimate would rise to 1.844 billion bushels.

Elsewhere on the Chicago Board of Trade, soybeans for March delivery inched up 0.37% on Friday to settle the week at USD12.7840 a bushel by close of trade. Prices of the oilseed rallied to a session high of USD12.9700 a bushel earlier in the day, the strongest level since December 31.

The March soybean contract added 0.34% on the week amid ongoing indications of robust export demand for U.S. supplies.

The USDA said U.S. soybean production reached 3.289 billion bushels last fall, 1% higher than a previous estimate and slightly more than analysts had forecast. Soybean yields averaged 43.3 bushels an acre, up from an estimate of 43.0 bushels in December.

Global soybean production will reach a record 284.94 million tons, compared with 283.54 million forecast last month and up from 268.02 million a year earlier, due to increased production in Brazil and Argentina.

Meanwhile, wheat for March delivery tumbled 2.61% on Friday to settle the week at USD5.6900 a bushel. Earlier in the day, wheat prices fell to a session low of USD5.6040 a bushel, the weakest level since July 12, 2010.

CBOT March wheat prices fell 0.76% on Thursday to settle at USD5.8420 a bushel. The March wheat contract ended the week with a loss of 6.41%.

The USDA said that U.S. wheat stockpiles in the season ending May 31 will total 608 million bushels, up from 575 million projected last month. The agency also forecast global supplies of the grain at 185.4 million tonnes, up 1.4% from a December estimate of 182.8 million tonnes.

In the week ahead, market players will focus on the release of key weekly USDA data, including crop progress numbers on Monday and export sales figures on Thursday.

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, followed by soybeans, government figures show. Wheat was fourth, behind hay.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger