Colder weather may threaten 15 percent of US Midwest wheat - forecaster

CHICAGO Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:35am EST

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Frigid temperatures in the U.S. Midwest this week posed a slight risk of freeze damage to about 15 percent of the region's soft red winter wheat crop, primarily in parts of Missouri and Illinois, a forecaster said on Wednesday.

* "Northeastern Missouri into southern and central Illinois will be on the edge of this cold air and could get a little bit of winterkill," said Joel Widenor, a meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group.

* "Overall, it's not going to be a serious threat because we have got so much snow cover in place," Widenor said. The snow should protect dormant wheat in the coldest areas, including northern Illinois and Indiana.

* Below-normal temperatures are expected in the Midwest for the next 10 days, with temperatures in Chicago seen dropping to minus 7 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 22 Celsius) by Thursday.

* Temperatures should moderate slightly this weekend but another cold push is expected in the first half of next week.

* There was no threat of winter kill in the southern Plains hard red winter wheat belt, Widenor said.

* The Plains should remain dry for the next week to 10 days, but there is a slight chance of showers in the 11- to 15-day period, in the first week of February.

* In South America, much-needed rains are expected to continue in crop areas of Argentina through tomorrow. Combined with showers in recent days, Widenor said three-quarters of the country's corn and soy belt will have received half an inch of rain.

* Forecasting models show better agreement of rains expected in Argentina late next week and the following week. "It is a wetter outlook in that six- to 15-day time frame," Widenor said.

* Conditions in Brazil are mostly favorable but dryness is starting to expand in eastern Mato Grosso do Sul and northern and central Parana.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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