June 22, 2018 / 6:15 PM / in 5 months

Showers soak much of U.S. Corn Belt; more storms next week

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Rains soaked portions of the U.S. Corn Belt this week, swamping fields in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, and more storms are expected early next week ahead of a warm-up, meteorologists said Friday.

The wet and warm outlook is generally favorable for U.S. corn and soybean crops overall, forecasters said, despite areas of flooding.

The National Weather Service posted flood warnings Friday in northern Illinois, northwest Iowa and neighboring southeast South Dakota, where some areas received 5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 cm) of rain over the last seven days.

“There has been some heavy stuff, but it’s pretty localized,” said Joel Widenor, a meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group.

Temperatures should warm next week, with highs reaching the low 90s Fahrenheit (32-34 degrees Celsius) by the end of the week in Chicago and 98 F (37 C) in St. Louis. The heat is not expected to threaten crops, in part because of ample soil moisture across so many key growing areas, meteorologists said.

Before this week’s showers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had rated 78 percent of the U.S. corn crop and 73 percent of the soybean crop in good to excellent condition as of June 17, among the strongest ratings in recent decades.

The strong start favored crop prospects and pressured corn and soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. Nearby CBOT soybean futures fell to a 9-1/2-year low this week, hit by favorable weather along with trade war fears.

But now, some analysts are considering whether soil moisture is excessive in some areas.

“The market right now is trying to figure out if too much water is a good thing, or not a good thing,” said Ted Seifried, analyst with the Zaner Group. “Beans don’t really like having wet feet, and that’s exactly what they’ve got now with all this rain.”

Other weather worries are beginning to crop up. Forecasts called for rains in Kansas on Sunday, stalling the harvest of winter wheat. The storms should move into the Midwest early next week, bringing 1 to 2 inches of rain to already-wet Iowa and northern Illinois.

Yet the incoming storms may miss some southern areas that remain dry, including northern Missouri and southwest Illinois.

“Some areas that have already seen a little too much rainfall are going to get some more,” said Kyle Tapley, meteorologist with Radiant Solutions.

Additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish

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