Lion's share of crops to swelter into August

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 31, 2012 8:29 AM

By Sam Nelson and Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The midday weather model suggested a slightly wetter pattern for the U.S. Midwest where corn and soybean crops have withered under an extensive drought, but rainfall will be only scattered and light, agricultural meteorologists forecast Tuesday.

"There's going to be rain, but it's just not going to be heavy enough to dramatically improve the situation in very many areas. There's no general soaking over the next two weeks," said Andy Karst of World Weather Inc.

The midday computer model pointed to wetter weather in parts of the eastern and central Corn Belt over the next 5 days, and more rain than earlier models had suggested in the 5- to 10-day period for portions of the northern Midwest, he said.

High temperatures in the triple-digits Fahrenheit were expected to persist in southwestern areas of the Midwest, but the rest of the region could be slightly cooler, he said.

More than half of the U.S. corn and soybean growing region will see little change from the heat and drought that have withered and degraded crops.

"We still see it as over half of the belt will be struggling with ongoing concerns over the next couple of weeks. The American model suggests there's relief in the forecast, but it's not very likely," said meteorologist Joel Widenor of Commodity Weather Group.

Corn and soybean conditions in the U.S. Midwest deteriorated further last week as the most expansive drought in more than 50 years ate away at crops in major producing states including Iowa and Illinois, government data released on Monday showed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 24 percent of the corn crop in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, and 29 percent of the soybean crop in good-to-excellent shape, both down 2 percentage points from the previous week.

The ratings for each were the worst since the comparable week in 1988, another year of severe drought in the nation's crop-growing mid-section.

A Reuters poll of 10 analysts had expected a 3-percentage-point drop in the corn rating and a 2-point drop in soybeans.

Analysts and crop experts also said further declines in condition ratings could be expected next week because weather is still stressful to each crop.

Commodity Weather Group on Tuesday said the driest areas in the Midwest for the next two weeks would include top corn and soy producing states Illinois and southern Iowa. Major crop producing states Kansas, Missouri and eastern Nebraska also would remain under pressure from the relentless drought.

The southwestern part of the Midwest will continue to be affected not only by dryness but by extreme heat, with highs of 100 F, CWG stated in a note to clients. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of the Delta would see expanding drought, causing losses to soybean, cotton and rice production.

(Reporting By Sam Nelson and Karl Plume; Editing by John Picinich)