CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Midwest will be cool and wet for at least the next 10 days, preventing farmers from planting corn through most of April, a forecaster said on Tuesday.
Up to an inch of rain fell in northern Iowa, eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota since early Monday while the eastern Corn Belt received 0.25 to 0.75 inch of rain.
"The Midwest is not going to do well under this type of weather," said forecaster Joel Burgio with Telvent DTN weather service.
Farmers will be sidelined, waiting for soils to dry and warm up before they can resume planting corn and spring wheat.
All the rain is also raising Midwest river levels, forcing the closure of several locks on the upper Mississippi River, the main artery to transport Midwest grain to export terminals at the U.S. Gulf.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said late Monday that 7 percent of the corn crop was seeded as Sunday, versus the 8 percent average for mid-April.
Additional rains will fall belt wide on Tuesday, up to an inch or more with the heaviest amounts falling in the eastern Corn Belt. Severe storms were forecast for the Ohio River Valley, with tornadoes possible by Tuesday night.
In the west, southern Minnesota could get a couple inches of snow along with the Dakotas Red River Valley.
Heavy rains up to 1.5 inch will redevelop Thursday in the west, moving east by Friday.
Temperatures will be generally below normal in the north and above normal in the south.
The six to 10-day outlook, which covers Sunday to Thursday, sees near to below normal temperatures in the west and near to above normal in the east. Precipitation was seen as near to above normal.
RAINS IN US PLAINS WHEAT BELT
"There is some improving weather for the wheat areas -- but the driest area is the least likely to get significant showers," said Burgio, adding that by the weekend even parched Texas and Oklahoma wheat may see a few showers.
The southern Plains hard red winter wheat belt has been suffering from drought since last autumn, especially the western half. HRW wheat conditions are deteriorating, with 38 percent of the crop rated poor to very poor by USDA in its latest crop report issued Monday.
Overnight, up to 0.5 inch of rain fell over northern Kansas, southeast Colorado and southern Nebraska wheat fields.
Texas and Oklahoma were hot and dry. Southwest Oklahoma reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, Burgio said.
More light showers will move through the southern Plains wheat belt on Tuesday, Thursday and again on the weekend, favoring the northern and eastern areas which have benefited from off-and-on rains.
Even the parched wheat crop in Texas and Oklahoma has a chance of seeing light rain by the weekend, Burgio said.
The southern Plains extended forecast is for normal to below normal temperatures in the north and near to above normal in the south. Rainfall will be normal to above in the north and east; normal to below in the south.
(Reporting by Christine Stebbins, Editing by Rene Pastor)