May 14, 2013 / 12:25 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. corn farmers to get brief respite from rain this week

* Early-week dry spell to boost plantings

* Showers quickly return to the Corn Belt

* U.S. corn planting pace falls to record low

By Sam Nelson

CHICAGO, May 14 (Reuters) - Drier weather early this week in the U.S. Midwest will boost corn plantings that have fallen to a record slow pace due to wet and chilly weather, an agricultural meteorologist said on Tuesday.

"It will remain dry today," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA Weather Services. "Then showers develop late on Wednesday and continue into the weekend with the heaviest rain in the northern Midwest."

Keeney said light showers would continue off and on through the weekend. It will be wet again next week, with the heaviest rain in the north, while it should be dry enough to plant in the far south.

"The next best chance for planting is in the 11-to-15-day period at the end of May," Keeney said. "It will be warmer and drier then."

Commodity Weather Group said rains of 0.25 inch to 1.00 inch could be expected late Wednesday and Thursday in the Midwest, with additional rains in the west Friday through Monday and in the east Sunday through Wednesday.

"Near-general coverage of the Corn Belt will occur, averaging 0.50 inch to 1.50 inches in the south and 1.50 to 3.00 inches in the north," said CWG meteorologist Joel Widenor. "This will stall seeding again after some additional improvement this week."

After a cold and wet spring in most of the U.S. crop belt, farmers have seeded 28 percent of their intended corn acres, up from 12 percent a week earlier but far behind the five-year average of 65 percent, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a weekly report on Monday.

The planting pace for corn was the slowest for this point in the year in USDA records dating back to the 1980s, lagging 1984, when farmers had seeded 29 percent of their corn.

The figure fell below the average estimate of 29 percent from analysts surveyed by Reuters ahead of the report.

For soybeans, the USDA said planting was 6 percent complete, up from 2 percent a week earlier. But the pace was the slowest for the 19th week since 1984, when soybeans were only 4 percent seeded. The five-year U.S. average is 24 percent.

Chicago Board of Trade corn and soybean futures were trading higher on Tuesday, due in part to the slow planting pace that threatened to trim 2013 production prospects. (Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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