* Corn, soy ratings drop 2 points, will also fall next week
* Weather remains stressful for each crop
* Ratings for each worst since 1988 drought
* Conditions decline in top 4 corn, soy states
(Updates with state-by-state details, background)
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, July 30 Corn and soybean conditions in
the U.S. Midwest deteriorated further last week as the most
expansive drought in more than 50 years ate away at crop
prospects in major producing states including Iowa and Illinois,
government data on Monday showed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 24 percent of the
U.S. corn crop in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday and
29 percent of the soybean crop in good-to-excellent shape, both
down 2 percentage points from the previous week.
The ratings for each were the worst since the comparable
week in 1988, another year of severe drought in the nation's
Crops improved marginally in Ohio and Indiana where
condition ratings were already among the poorest in the country
and in smaller-producing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan,
but those improvements were overshadowed by eroding ratings in
the top producing states in the central and western Midwest.
Concerns that the most expansive U.S. drought since 1956 was
intensifying in areas that had not been as severely impacted
earlier in the season propelled U.S. corn and soybean prices to
all-time highs this month.
Much of the U.S. corn crop was largely beyond repair, but
soybeans were moving into their critical flowering and
pod-setting phase of development when heat and moisture stress
can be devastating to yields.
In Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota, the top 4 corn
and soybean producing states, corn crop ratings fell by 2 to 5
points and soybean ratings dropped 3 to 4 points.
A Reuters poll of 10 analysts had expected a 3 percentage
point drop in the corn rating and a 2 point drop in soybeans.
Graphic on corn: r.reuters.com/muj29s
Graphic on soybean: r.reuters.com/nuj29s
The U.S. corn crop was rated 41 percentage points below the
five-year average and 5 points above the 19 percent
good-to-excellent rating in the comparable week during the
drought of 1988.
The soybean rating was 34 points below the five-year average
and 10 points above the same week in 1988.
Analysts and crop experts also said further declines in
condition ratings could be expected next week as weather
remained stressful to each crop.
Dry and hot weather in the U.S. Midwest for the next week or
two will further erode crop conditions, trimming this year's
corn and soybean production, an agricultural meteorologist
forecast on Monday.
"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 (30-35 degrees Celsius), 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 (0.8-2 cm) 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," Dee said.
Analysts have rapidly been lowering their outlooks for this
year's corn and soybean crops, boosting the price of each to
(Reporting by Sam Nelson and Karl Plume; Editing by Dale Hudson
and Marguerita Choy)