By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Occasional rainfall over the next week to 10 days will slow seedings of the U.S. corn crop, which was planted at a record fast pace last week, an agricultural meteorologist said on Tuesday.
"There will be some rains, but not enough to stop planting entirely," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA Weather Services. "The good news is it will be warmer next week, which will really help growth and development of the crop."
Keeney said showers Tuesday and Wednesday in the northwest Corn Belt would slow plantings. Then it will turn dry by Thursday, so there will be more plantings later in the week.
Rain will move from west to east through midweek, causing some planting disruptions, but farmers should make good progress overall, though "not as fast as last week," he said.
U.S. farmers took advantage of mostly clear skies last week to plant corn at a blistering pace in an attempt to catch up from weather delays in April and early May.
In its weekly crop progress report late on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said U.S. corn planting was 71 percent complete, up from 28 percent a week ago but still behind the 79 percent five-year average seeding pace.
The increase of 43 percentage points from the previous week indicates that farmers in the world's biggest corn producer seeded a single-week U.S. record of 41.8 million acres to the grain as of Sunday, topping the previous record of 34.1 million acres set in June 1992.
The USDA has projected U.S. 2013 corn plantings at 97.3 million acres this year, the largest land area devoted to production of the crop since the 1930s.
Soybean planting progress rose to 24 percent from 6 percent a week earlier, the USDA said.
"The best weather of (the) year for fieldwork allowed producers to rapidly advance their planting pace, especially for corn," the Iowa field office of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service said in its weekly report. Iowa is the biggest U.S. grower of corn and soybeans.
Planting in the U.S. Corn Belt this year got off to its slowest start in decades due to cold and rainy weather, with snowfall recorded in some states as late as early May. In contrast, Iowa farmers this past week had an average of 5.3 days considered "suitable for fieldwork," more than double the amount in any previous week this year.
Farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota each seeded more than half their intended corn acres in the week.
(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)