Heat persists in U.S. Corn Belt but cool-down expected by Sunday

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 07, 2012 10:46 AM
Heat persists in U.S. Corn Belt but cool-down expected by Sunday

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Corn Belt will endure another day of excessive heat on Friday that will persist in southern areas on Saturday, but a cold front should usher in more seasonal temperatures by Sunday, easing stress on crops, meteorologists said.

"We are going to be excessively hot today, with highs of 100 to 105 (degrees Fahrenheit) common from Kansas to Indiana, with some areas up to 108 F (42 Celsius)," said Andy Karst, agricultural meteorologist for World Weather Inc, Kansas City.

"We are going to have a cool-off beginning Sunday. It will be 15 degrees cooler, so that will definitely help," Karst said.

The forecast appeared to help soothe markets as well. Chicago Board of Trade grain set back Friday on profit-taking, a day after CBOT corn hit a one-year high and soybeans set a four-year high.

"We are going to cool off. And we have hit some major levels in the cash corn prices," Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics in Lafayette, Indiana, said of the setback in the market.

Scattered rains in the past 24 hours brought only limited relief to parts of the belt, and rains in the next 10 days will be limited to northwestern portions of the Midwest, including the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota.

"Rains have gotten going in the Dakotas and are just moving into Minnesota this morning," said John Dee of Global Weather Monitoring. He said those areas should see 0.5 to 1.5 inches of rain in the next 24 hours.

However, most of the Midwest will see only 0.2 to 0.6 inches of rain through the weekend, and about one-third of the Corn Belt could get less than 0.2 inches, Dee said.

"Unless you are in Minnesota," Dee said, "the rains this weekend are going to leave most areas still wanting more."

Record-setting heat coupled with a lack of rain in most areas has devastated the U.S. corn crop, which was expected this spring to be a record-breaker. The scorching weather arrived just as much of the crop was starting pollination, its key reproductive phase, a time when stress can have the biggest impact on yield.

Karst said there would be some opportunities for rain from July 13 to 19. However, he said, "we probably won't get enough rain to improve soil moisture. The crops will benefit, but they are not going to be fixed."

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen)