U.S. harvest prospects wilt under weather stress

U.S. weather updates at midday Tuesday showed little change from the relentless pattern of stress on the U.S. corn and soybean crops, an agricultural meteorologist said.

"There is not much change from this morning, at least for the Midwest. We’re still looking at about the same pattern as this morning," said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc. in Kansas City.

Cooler weather is expected next week but the moderate temperatures, accompanied by some rainfall in the south, will arrive too late to save some of the already-damaged corn crop, an agricultural meteorologist said.

The chance for rain and cooler temperatures follows heat and dryness this week that is harming corn and soybean production prospects, said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.

"The six- to 10-day (forecast) is wetter for the southern Midwest and Delta, not excessively wet. In the order of 0.5 inch to one inch of rain is possible," he said.

Keeney said the rainfall would come too late to help severely damaged corn plants in the southern Midwest but the crop in the central Midwest could have some benefit.

"Even with the rains, the crop in the south is too far gone. Definitely it will be cooler next week with the highs in the 80s (degrees Fahrenheit)," Keeney said.

Keeney said the northern Midwest, including Minnesota, parts of northern Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, would receive some light rainfall over the next few days but heat and dryness would continue to wilt crops in the rest of the Midwest.

Temperatures in the 90s F and low 100s F were expected in much of the Midwest for the balance of this week.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday said 48 per cent of the U.S. corn crop was in good to excellent condition, down from 56 per cent a week ago. Forty-five per cent of the soybean crop was rated good to excellent, down from 53 per cent the previous week.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures have soared nearly 30 per cent, roughly US$1.50 per bushel, in a month as dryness and heat began to eat away at corn production prospects. Soybeans are up 18 per cent, or more than US$2 per bushel.

— Sam Nelson writes for Reuters in Chicago, where he has been covering the grain and soy futures markets for over 20 years.

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