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U.S. Corn Belt still parched despite rain

Corn and other crops have been devastated by the U.S. drought.


Corn and soybeans in the northern and eastern U.S. Midwest will continue to benefit from showers and cooler temperatures over the next week, but heat and drought will keep stressing crops in the southern and central Corn Belt, an agricultural meteorologists said on Friday.

The midday run of the U.S. weather model for the coming week was consistent with its earlier outlook, meteorologists said.

"There's no big huge relief seen," said John Dee, an agricultural meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

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Iowa and northern Missouri could see 0.25 inch to 0.75 inch (0.5 to 2 centimetres) of rain from late Saturday into Sunday, Mr. Dee said. Showers will expand into the remainder of Midwest early next week but amounts should be light, 0.5 inch or less.

Weekend temperatures will be mostly in the 80s Fahrenheit (27C to 38C), giving growing corn and soybean plants some relief from the scorching 100F days this week, forecasters said.

But U.S. crops will continue to suffer from the worst drought in more than 50 years, especially in the central and southern Corn Belt.

A short U.S. harvest is raising worries about the world's largest food exporter's ability to meet the needs of food processors, livestock producers and ethanol makers. The lack of rain was also drying up waterways and slowing river shipments of commodities to export ports on the Gulf of Mexico.

While rains moved through Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Illinois into Michigan and Ohio this week, the big crops states of Iowa, Indiana and most of Illinois saw very little to no rain this week.

"Crops will continue to deteriorate. The corn crop is already gone and in the north and east, beans will improve some but not in the southwest," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.

Mr. Keeney said that over the next week, northern and eastern crop areas would receive from 0.50 inch to one inch of rainfall and temperatures will turn moderate with highs in the low 90s (Fahrenheit).

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Mere sprinkles of maybe 0.10 inch are likely next week in the southwest, including most of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, and a return of temperatures to the upper 90s and low 100s, he said.

The updated midday run for the six- to 10-day outlook pushed the forecasted rains later into the period.

The 11- to 16-day forecast called for a high pressure ridge to produce above-average temperatures and below-average rains for the Plains. The Midwest outlook was for average temperatures and rainfall.

Corn and soybean conditions have been on a rapid skid this summer, falling to their worst conditions since the last U.S. drought of 1988. Crop specialists expect the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report another drop in conditions in its weekly crop report released Monday.

Commodity Weather Group on Friday said crops would enjoy a brief relief for one to five days. After that, the Midwest dryness expands again with the southwest half of the Midwest peaking in the mid 90s to 100s next Wednesday and Thursday, according to CWG.

CWG's Friday note to clients said moisture deficits will likely draw down soybean, cotton and rice yields in up to one-third of the crop belt over the next two weeks.

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