Only minor relief from the drought stressing U.S. crops

CHICAGO Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:16pm EDT

1 of 3. A John Deere sprayer sits in a popcorn field on the Matt Johnson family farm in Redkey, Indiana June 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brent Smith

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Little relief from the near relentless drought plaguing corn and soybeans in the U.S. Midwest was indicated by fresh weather forecast maps on Thursday, with only minor amounts of rain expected in some areas over the next week to 10 days, an agricultural meteorologist said.

"There's not much change in the forecast. Some light rains are expected in the southeast Midwest into the weekend and some showers in the eastern Dakotas," said John Dee, meteorologist with Global Weather Monitoring.

Rainfall amounts from 0.30 to 0.80 inch were expected in the southeastern Midwest and in the Dakotas, but virtually no rain was likely elsewhere, he said.

High temperatures for the next week were forecast to hover in the upper 80s to low 90s degrees Fahrenheit, he said.

"Overall it's not as threatening as last week, but still no organized rain event so it's still not a great forecast," Dee said.

There was a chance of rainfall later next week. "For the second half of next week there could be some rainfall of 0.30 to 0.80 inch with about 75 to 80 percent coverage of the Midwest," Dee forecast.

The updated midday run of the U.S. weather model was drier than the previous one for the next few days, stretching from northern Missouri into northwestern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The updated forecast removed about 0.25 inch of rain over the period from its previous run, said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.

"It shows a little bit of rain, but not to the extent that the model showed this morning, which would trend toward the European model. The European model has been quite dry in those northwest areas," Keeney said.

Forecasters said the U.S. model has been less accurate than the European model in recent weeks.

Drought and heat in the U.S. led the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday to slash its corn production forecast to 12.970 billion bushels from its previous outlook for 14.790 billion and below the record crop of 13.1 billion bushels produced in 2009.

USDA on Monday dropped its estimate for U.S. corn good-to-excellent condition rating to 40 percent from the previous 48 percent. Traders expected a further decline in conditions in the USDA weekly crop progress report to be released this coming Monday.

The agency pegged U.S. soybean conditions at 40 percent good-to-excellent, down from 45 percent the previous week, and in its July crop report pegged 2012 U.S. soybean production at 3.050 billion bushels, down from the previous forecast for 3.205 billion.

The government will update its U.S. corn and soybean production forecasts in its next report which will be released on August 10.

(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by John Picinich)

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