Scant rain to give scorched Midwest crops little relief

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Crops in the northern and eastern U.S. Midwest will benefit from showers and cooler temperatures over the next week but heat and drought will continue to punish crops in the southwest, an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday.

"Crops will continue to deteriorate. The corn crop is already gone and in the north and east, beans will improve some but not in the southwest," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.

"There will be additional rain in the eastern Midwest today and showers in the northwest tomorrow and Sunday," he said.

But a dire picture for crops was given for the first half of August by Keeney and other agricultural meteorologists.

Keeney said that over the next week, northern and eastern crop areas would receive from 0.50 inch to 1.00 inch of rainfall and temperatures will turn moderate with highs in the low 90s (degrees Fahrenheit).

Mere sprinkles of maybe 0.10 inch are likely in the southwest, including most of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, and a return of temperatures to the upper 90s F and low 100s F, he said.

Corn and soybean conditions have been on a rapid skid since farmers planted each crop earlier than usual and at a breakneck pace. Farmers planted the most area to corn in 75 years this year, only to see it wilt in the most expansive drought in over a half century, and now soybeans are deteriorating at a rapid pace.

Corn and soybean prices eased a bit this week after hitting record highs late last week and on Friday, soybean prices were leading a fresh charge higher since the soybean crop is now suffering the same fate as corn.

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Friday said crops would enjoy a brief relief for one to five days. After that, the Midwest dryness expands again with the southwest half of the Midwest peaking in the mid 90s F to 100s F next Wednesday and Thursday, according to CWG.

CWG's Friday note to clients said moisture deficits will likely draw down soybean, cotton and rice yields in up to one-third of the crop belt over the next two weeks.

The most extensive drought in five decades intensified this week across the U.S. Midwest and Plains states that produce most of the county's corn, soybeans and livestock, a report from climate experts showed on Thursday.

Almost 30 percent of the nine-state Midwest was suffering extreme drought, nearly triple from the previous week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor for the week ending July 24.

Conditions in the Midwest, which produces roughly three quarters of the corn and soybean crops in the world's largest producer and exporter, worsened despite the first measurable rainfall in a month in some areas.

More than 53 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico are in moderate drought or worse conditions, a record large amount for the fourth straight week in the Drought Monitor's 12-year history.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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