Midday US weather updates drier than before

CHICAGO Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:29pm EDT

1 of 2. Cobs of drought-damaged corn are pictured near Kewanee, Illinois July 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Karl Plume

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Midday weather updates indicated even drier weather than earlier forecasts in the U.S. Midwest for the next week or two which will increase stress on corn and soybean crops that already have been slashed due to the worst drought in over 50 years, an agricultural meteorologist said on Monday.

"It doesn't look good for crops at all, now it's a matter of just how bad it's going to get," said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc.

Karst said the updated forecast showed less rain late this week and early next week for South Dakota and southwest Minnesota than earlier expected.

And, "for next week there is less rain for Nebraska and northwest Iowa. The midday's showed some showers for the eastern Corn Belt on August 7-8, but that is pretty suspect," he said.

"It looks like a continued trend of below-average precipitation in the Midwest for the next week to 10 days," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Temperatures this week will warm into the upper 80s to low 90s degrees Fahrenheit, with only a few light showers in the east on Monday and some rainfall later in the week, he said.

"There are no widespread soaking rains in sight. Thursday and Friday there could be scattered showers, and by the weekend from 0.30 to 0.80 inch with coverage of about 75 to 80 percent," Dee said. "There won't be as much stress as recently, but crops will continue to deteriorate."

Recent rains brought some relief from drought in the northern and eastern Midwest, but overall crops will continue to suffer, especially in the central and southern Corn Belt.

A lessened U.S. harvest was raising worries about the ability of the world's largest food exporter 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.

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 later on Monday.

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Monday said recent rains had scaled down the driest areas to about 40 percent of the Midwest soybeans for much of this week.

But "the return of drier conditions to the central and southwestern belt will allow concerns to quickly return to at least half of the belt," CWG said.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures were up more than 20 cents per bushel, or nearly 3 percent, and soybeans up 35 cents, or 2 percent, on Monday as investors bought on fears of a crop shortfall in the U.S. this year.

(Reporting By Sam Nelson; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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