Wet U.S. Midwest sections may lead to fewer corn acres
* Corn acreage reductions possible in some areas of Midwest
* Warmer weather next week to spur crop growth
* Farmers racing to catch up corn plantings
CHICAGO, May 23 (Reuters) - Rainfall over the next week to 10 days in parts of the Midwest will delay late corn seedings and possibly cause a shift from corn to soybean acreage, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday.
"Acreage reductions are most likely in northeastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, central North Dakota and western Wisconsin as rains remain normal to above normal," said Commodity Weather Group (CWG) meteorologist Joel Widenor.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, Widenor said warmer weather next week with highs in the 80s (degrees Fahrenheit) to lower 90s F would help dry soils between showers and speed corn and soybean emergence.
"The southeastern Midwest will see the least showers over the next two weeks and soil moisture deficits will begin to show up, but it is still too early to pose a significant problem," he said.
The worst drought in more than 50 years had depleted soil moisture reserves in much of the Corn Belt last season but a return to spring rains, though slowing plantings, has boosted crop prospects for the 2013 harvest.
U.S. farmers took advantage of mostly clear skies last week to plant corn at a blistering pace to catch up from weather delays in April and early May.
In its weekly crop progress report late on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said corn planting was 71 percent complete, up from 28 percent a week ago but still behind the 79 percent five-year average seeding pace.
USDA has projected U.S. 2013 corn plantings at 97.3 million acres, the largest land area devoted to its production since the 1930s.
Soybean planting progress rose to 24 percent from 6 percent a week earlier, USDA said. (Reporting by Sam Nelson; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)
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