(Corrects spelling of Widenor in paragraph 7)
* Rain and snow expected in Kansas, Colorado
* Cold snap slowing corn plantings
* Chill not expected to harm winter wheat
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, March 20 Rain and snow is expected
Friday and Saturday in Kansas and Colorado, which will add
valuable moisture to dry soils in the drought-ravaged hard red
winter wheat belt, an agricultural meteorologist said on
"It will be mostly snow and the moisture equivalent will be
from 0.25 inch to 0.60 inch," said Andy Karst, a meteorologist
for World Weather Inc.
Karst said temperatures would drop to the 20s (degrees
Fahrenheit) to the teens in the Plains on Sunday and Monday
"There will be some freezes but not cold enough to cause any
damage," he said, adding that wet weather will continue to slow
early corn seedings in the southern U.S. Midwest.
Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Wednesday said the best
chances for drought relief over the next week would be in
central and eastern Kansas, southern Nebraska and southern Iowa.
These areas should receive a total of about 1-1/2 inches of
moisture over the next two weeks, said CWG meteorologist Joel
"Cool conditions will continue to slow the northward advance
of corn seeding in the Deep South," Widenor said. "Winterkill
threats in the Plains remain low despite the cold pattern."
The condition of the hard red winter wheat crop in Kansas,
the biggest U.S. wheat production state, improved in the latest
week but farmers were still concerned about soil moisture
levels, according to government report released on Monday.
The Kansas wheat crop was rated 29 percent good to excellent
as of March 17, up 2 percentage points from a week earlier,
according to the Kansas field office of the U.S. Agriculture
Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Most of the state received only light rain during the week
and top soil moisture was rated 49 percent short or very short.
In southern areas of the country, farmers were getting a
fast start on spring planting.
Corn seeding in Louisiana was 56 percent complete, up from
35 percent a year ago and well ahead of the five-year average
for mid-March of 21 percent. Rice planting was 25 percent
finished compared with the five-year average of 8 percent and
NASS's Louisiana office said weather conditions were excellent.
In Texas, 42 percent of the corn crop was planted, ahead of
the five-year average of 33 percent. Wheat was rated 16 percent
good to excellent and windy conditions depleted some of the
already sparse soil moisture during the past week.
(Additional reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago; Editing by