June 28, 2012 / 6:30 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. crops cook under Midwest heat dome

* Midday US weather model a little wetter for this week
    * Drought monitor shows Midwest drought expanding
    * Roughly 30 pct of central Corn Belt is bone dry

 (Updates with midday outlook)
    By Sam Nelson and Christine Stebbins
    CHICAGO, June 28 (Reuters) - Stifling heat and bone dry
conditions will persist across the center the U.S. Midwest for
at least the next 10 days, adding more stress to young corn and
soybean plants already suffering from a lack of rain,
agricultural meteorologists said on Thursday.
    A high pressure ridge hovering over the central Midwest is
creating a heat dome, causing temperatures to spike to well over
100 degrees Fahrenheit.
    "It's not going to be good for corn or beans," said Don
Keeney, senior agricultural forecast with Cropcast, a division
of MDA EarthSat.
    Keeney noted that the midday U.S. weather model was a little
wetter for Indiana and Ohio for this week versus the morning
forecast but "is not excessively wet by any means, instead of
1/4 of inch it gives them a 1/3," he said.
    "We're still looking at pronounced dryness for the next 10
days," said John Dee of Global Weather Monitoring, an advisory
closely followed by grain traders.
    Midday temperatures across the Midwest were 91 F in Des
Moines, Iowa, 95 in Chicago, and 97 in St. Louis. Chicago was
expected to see a high of 100 on Thursday and St. Louis was
forecast to break 100. 
    The heat and dryness come at the worse possible time for the
Midwest corn crop as it will pollinate now through the next
three weeks. Little rain and high temperatures during
pollination can slash yields, a big worry among farmers and
grain buyers given the huge world demand for U.S. corn.
    Temperatures will stay in the 90s for the next week or two,
Dee said.
    "There will be a few scattered showers in the north, but
only 0.20 to 0.60 inch, and it looks like 30 percent of the
Midwest will stay completely dry," Dee said. "Bottom line is ...
more pressure on crops for the next 10 days." 
    The National Weather Service is calling for above-normal
temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the next six to
10 days from Ohio to Nebraska, southward to Missouri.
    The U.S. government weekly drought monitor, released on
Thursday, showed drought conditions expanding from Illinois and
Indian to Ohio given last week's hot, dry conditions in the
eastern Midwest, which dried soils and stressed crops.
    USDA on Monday rated 56 percent of the U.S. corn crop and 53
percent of the soybeans as good/excellent, the lowest ratings in
that category in late June since 1988.
    Crop worries have ignited the Chicago Board of Trade grain
markets in the past two weeks. New-crop December has
gained more than $1 a bushel since June 6, hitting a high of
$6.56-3/4 on Wednesday.    

 (Reporting by Sam Nelson and Christine Stebbins; Editing by
John Picinich and Bob Burgdorfer)
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