U.S. corn and soy wilt from unrelenting heat and dryness

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The soybean and corn crops in the U.S. Midwest will get hit hard again this week by unrelenting high heat and dryness, said an agricultural meteorologist on Monday.

"We're still looking at a scenario providing below-average rainfall for at least the next 10 days," said John Dee of Global Weather Monitoring.

A few storm systems over the weekend brought light and isolated heavy rainfall to parts of the Midwest, "mostly along I-80," he said, referring to the interstate highway. But "a good chunk of the Midwest had no rain," he added.

In contrast, violent storms killed at least 15 people and knocked out power to more than 3 million customers in the Mid-Atlantic states on the East Coast during the weekend. These storms became fierce only after leaving the croplands of the central U.S.

For the Midwest, temperatures will remain in the 90s to low 100s degrees Fahrenheit for most of this week, cooling a bit into the 80s and low 90s by the weekend, Dee predicted.

"There may be a few spotty showers in the north and east today and the far north by midweek," he said.

By the weekend, rainfall of 0.25 to 0.75 inch can be expected, with isolated heavier amounts with 70 to 75 percent coverage.

The lingering dryness and this week's turn to extreme heat was harming the corn and soybean crops, especially corn which is entering its critical pollination or reproductive stage of developmet.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture later on Monday will release its latest U.S. corn and soybean condition ratings, and analysts expected further declines from last week.

Last Monday, USDA said 56 percent of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition, down 7 percentage points from the previous week.

Soybean conditions declined as well, and crop experts expected further deterioration due to the extreme dryness in roughly the southern half of the Midwest.

Commodity Weather Group on Monday said the dryness was expanding into the U.S. Delta.

Chicago Board of Trade new-crop December corn futures have soared 30 percent or $1.50 per bushel since the middle of June because of the prospect for crop losses from high hear and drought.

At 7:02 a.m. CDT (1202 GMT), CBOT December corn was up 20-3/4 cents at $6.55-1/2 per bushel. (Reporting By Sam Nelson; Editing by John Picinich)



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