May 31, 2013 / 3:41 PM / 6 years ago

Top US corn state Iowa receives most spring rain on record

* Excessive wet weather leading to crop yield concerns
    * Farmers running risk of losing insurance coverage
    * More rain forecast for Iowa and other states

    By Sam Nelson
    CHICAGO, May 31 (Reuters) - Top U.S. corn and soybean
producing state Iowa has received the most spring rainfall since
records began 141 years ago, slowing crop plantings and
threatening to reduce yields, an Iowa climatologist said on
Friday.
    "From March through May, which is our spring record keeping
period, Iowa had received 17.48 inches of rain as of Thursday,"
Iowa State Climatologist, Harry Hillaker said. "There may be
another 0.15 inch added to that today."
    Hillaker said the old record of 15.36 inches was set in 1892
but rainfall seen from March through to May is the most since
records began.
    Hillaker said typical March-May rainfall in the state was
10.22 inches. "That would be normal and is based on rainfall
received for the past 30 years," he said.
    Excessive wet weather in the U.S. Midwest has slowed
seedings of corn and soybeans, pushing corn plantings up to the
end-of-May deadline that farmers can plant without suffering
cutbacks in crop insurance coverage.
    Farmers who plant corn after the end of May in Iowa and
Illinois are hit with reductions in insurance benefits for each
day that plantings are delayed.
    Hillaker said Iowa runs the risk of flooding since soil
moisture reserves have been replenished following the worst
drought in over 50 years last year.
    "The only time period I can find where it was so hot and dry
one year followed by cold and wet the next would be the 1901 and
1902 years," he said.
    Additional rainfall late this week into the weekend will
further slow corn and soybean plantings in the U.S. Midwest,
threatening to reduce yield potential for the 2013 crop season,
an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday. 
    "It's not the best of conditions, there will be more rain
for the next two days with the heaviest southeast of a line from
Kansas City to Green Bay," said John Dee, meteorologist for
Global Weather Monitoring.
    Dee said it would turn drier from Sunday through Tuesday but
more rain is expected in the Midwest beginning next Wednesday
and "we could see more showers next Friday into the weekend." 
The showers will be widespread and "continue to cause some
issues," Dee said. 
    The slow seeding of both crops this spring has raised
concerns about reduced yields at autumn harvest as key phases of
crop development will likely be delayed until the heat of the
summer. A late planting also increases the possibility of an
early frost inflicting further damage on the crops.
    The USDA said that corn planting was 86 percent complete as
of May 26, up 15 percentage points from a week earlier.
    The corn progress was down from 99 percent a year ago and
behind the five-year average of 90 percent. But prospects were
much improved from just two weeks ago, when muddy fields led to
the slowest start on record for corn planting.
    Farmers had finished 44 percent of soybean planting as of
May 26, compared with 87 percent a year ago and the five-year
average of 61 percent. It was the slowest pace for soybeans
since 1996, when farmers had seeded just 35 percent of their
crop by the end of May.             
        

 (Reporting by Sam Nelson; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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