August 7, 2012 / 12:20 PM / 5 years ago

Wetter outlook for drought-struck U.S. Midwest

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Midday forecasts were for wetter weather in the U.S. Midwest this week which will help the late planted soybean crop but arrive too late to be of benefit to the drought-stressed corn crop, an agricultural meteorologist said.

Outlooks for Wednesday and Thursday were for 0.50 to 1.00 inch with locally heavier amounts in Missouri, west central Illinois, western and southern Iowa and southern South Dakota.

“Previously we were expecting 0.20 inch to 0.75 inch,” said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc.

Karst also said there were now outlooks for up to 1.00 or 2.00 inches of rain Thursday and Friday for northern Indiana, southern Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky compared with the previous outlook for only 0.50 inch.

MDA EarthSat Weather meteorologist Don Keeney agreed the central and eastern Midwest should receive rain on Thursday and Friday, and high temperatures will be in the 80s degrees Fahrenheit (26-32 degrees Celsius), rather than the 90s F.

“Temperatures will be cooler late this week, a high of only 77 F in Chicago by Friday but there’s a return to heat next week,” Keeney said.

Corn plants struggle to survive on the drought-stricken land of farmer Scott Keach who owns 2500 acre Keach Farm in Henderson, Kentucky, July 24, 2012. Rains over the weekend across most of the Midwest corn and soybean growing region, and forecasts for more rain this week, will help relieve stress on crops, an agricultural meteorologist said Monday. Photo taken July 24, 2012. REUTERS/ John Sommers II

Keeney said some of the late-planted U.S. soybean crop would benefit from the late summer turn to damper weather but the lion’s share of the U.S. corn crop has already been affected by the worst drought in 56 years.

Corn and soybean prices were driven to record highs in late July as the drought worsened, trimming crop production. Prices for each eased on Monday but by Tuesday the market was turning higher again on concerns about more crop losses.

Relentless heat and drought has slashed prospects for the U.S. corn crop to a five-year low and the supply of corn next year was expected to fall to its lowest in nearly 20 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday will release its August crop report and traders were bracing for the worst.

U.S. soybean inventories could fall to their lowest level in 32 years as the drought continues to trim U.S. soybean production prospects.

Soybean conditions began to stabilize last week on improved crop weather in a broad swath of the Midwest while corn conditions declined another one percentage point. However, the ratings for each remained the worst since 1988 as the heat and dryness took a huge bite out of crop prospects.

Reporting By Sam Nelson; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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