* Wet weather and snow hampering corn plantings
* Corn plantings have fallen to record low pace
* Kansas wheat tour reporting results of drought damage
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, May 2 Rain and snow this week in the
U.S. Corn Belt will further slow corn plantings, already at a
record low pace, and freezing temperatures are threatening
further harm to the southwest Plains hard red winter wheat crop,
an agricultural meteorologist said.
"The current system is bringing rains of 0.50 inch to 1.5
inches or more with widespread coverage in a line roughly west
of Louisville to Chicago, with lighter amounts in the east,"
said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.
Dee said snow was falling in central and western Iowa and
southern Minnesota. Temperatures had fallen to the upper 20s in
degrees Fahrenheit in winter wheat areas of eastern Colorado and
western Kansas, he said, with readings from 30 F to 35 F in the
Panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas.
Another round of freezing temperatures is expected early
Friday, he said.
A series of cold snaps already has harmed some of the wheat
crop grown in the southwest Plains. Current rainfall, while
easing drought stress, is too little too late to revive some of
the wheat fields in Kansas that suffered last fall and over the
winter from the worst drought in over 50 years.
Winter wheat yield prospects in southern and western Kansas
are below the five-year average and down 15 percent from a year
ago due to drought, with some western fields expected to yield
nothing, crop scouts on an annual state tour said Wednesday.
Kansas is the top U.S. wheat state and the largest producer
of hard red winter wheat, which is typically milled into flour
This week's storm system in the Plains and Midwest is
waning, but showers are expected to linger into the weekend, Dee
said. It will be drier early next week, but there are mixed
forecasts for later next week.
The American weather model indicates only light rain, Dee
said, while the European model indicates wet weather. "I'm going
with the wetter outlook," he said.
Rain around the U.S. Midwest kept farmers out of fields last
week, matching the slowest corn planting pace ever, government
data released on Monday showed.
The weather also took a toll on the developing winter wheat
crop, which deteriorated to its worst condition for this time of
year in 17 years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said corn planting as of
April 28 was 5 percent complete, just 1 percentage point ahead
of where farmers were a week ago. The pace was the slowest since
1984, when farmers also had completed just 5 percent of their
The USDA's weekly crop progress report showed the 5 percent
corn planting completion pace as of Sunday was a huge drop from
49 percent a year earlier and down sharply from the 31 percent
five-year average seeding pace.
Analysts had predicted corn planting to be 9 percent
finished, according to the average of 13 estimates in a Reuters
poll that ranged from 7 percent to 11 percent.
Chicago Board of Trade wheat and corn futures
were trading higher on Thursday, boosted by concerns of
production losses due to late corn seedings and weather damage
to the winter wheat crop.
(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Wichita, Kansas;
Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)