Drought relief but no bonanza for crops
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Midday weather updates on Monday showed no change from early outlooks for light showers and cooler temperatures over the next week in the U.S. crop belt which will slow deterioration of the drought-stressed corn and soybean crops, an agricultural meteorologist said on Monday.
"Everything looks pretty much the same," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.
Dee said showers and cooler temperatures in the Midwest would slow deterioration of corn and soybean crops but there would be no big jump in crop conditions.
A Reuters poll of 12 analysts on Monday indicated the rains over the past two weeks have helped reverse the season-long decline in U.S. soybean conditions and would stabilize corn conditions that have declined for nine straight weeks.
Dee said light rains fell over the weekend in the northern Midwest and similar rainfall was expected on Monday in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and from late Wednesday into Friday about 85 percent of the Midwest can expect from 0.30 to 0.80 inch of rain.
"Temperatures will be more comfortable with highs in the 80s (degrees Fahrenheit) (27-32 degrees Celsius) in the north and the low 90s F in the south," Dee said.
Dee and other crop experts said the U.S. corn crop was already harmed beyond repair by the summer's heat but some of the late planted soy may be helped. "It will allow some of the filling or pod setting soybeans to develop but the damage has been done to the corn crop," he said.
Commodity Weather Group (CWG) said nearly one-third of the Midwest soybean crop remained under stress from lack of moisture and the soybean area stressed by drought may expand slightly over the next 10 days.
Parts of central Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, western Iowa, southern Wisconsin, southwestern Minnesota and southern South Dakota will be most prone to stress, CWG said.
Also, nearly half of the Delta in the lower Mississippi crop region remains unfavorably dry for late growth in dryland areas, but rains were expected to expand from late this week into late August and will ease moisture deficits, according to CWG.
As the worst drought in over a half century took its toll, investors went on a buying spree, boosting corn prices by more than 50 percent from late May to record highs above $8 per bushel.
The market was setting back on Monday due to the better crop weather forecasts and profit-taking from the big gains throughout the summer growing season.
The U.S. government on Friday released fresh crop data showing deep cuts for this year's corn and oilseed output as the drought spread through America's breadbasket.
USDA said this year's corn crop would fall below 11.0 billion bushels for the first time in six years and the number of bushels yielded per acre was a 17-year low. Soybean production was forecast at a five year low and soy yield per acre nearly a 10-year low.
The sharp cuts in crop output even filtered into the precious metals markets, boosting gold as worries about higher food prices enhanced its allure as an inflation hedge.
Analysts and crop experts said further cuts may be seen in future reports.
(Reporting by Sam Nelson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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