* Drought relief in north and east US Midwest
* Crops still baking in southwest Midwest
* Corn yields projected at 10-year low
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, July 25 Rainfall this week and more rain for the next
10 days will boost crop prospects in the northern and eastern U.S. Midwest, but
crops in the rest of the growing region will still struggle against extreme heat
and drought, an agricultural meteorologist forecast Wednesday.
"There is improvement in the north and east, and we expect more showers
today and tomorrow in the west central to northwest," said Don Keeney,
meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.
Showers were likely over the weekend in the northwestern Midwest, with
accumulations of 0.50 to 0.75 inch and up to 0.25 inch elsewhere.
"Next week there will be above-average rain in Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky and also rain in east central Illinois," he said.
High temperatures in the 90s degrees Fahrenheit would remain the norm for 10
days in much of the Midwest, with triple-digit readings in the southwest.
Extreme heat will continue to bake crops in the southwestern Midwest, with
temperatures soaring above 100 F on Wednesday in St. Louis, Missouri.
"The high today in Chicago will be 98 F then cool to the upper 80s F later
in the week through next week," Keeney said.
The most expansive drought in America's breadbasket in more than a half
century has slashed corn and soybean crop prospects and boosted prices for each
to record highs late last week.
The turn to wetter weather over the weekend led to a sharp selloff of grain
prices on Monday and Tuesday, but the market was showing signs of stabilizing on
Wednesday because of far from ideal crop weather and as crop experts continued
to cut their estimates for this year's corn production.
A Reuters poll on Tuesday indicated corn yields could fall to a 10-year low
and corn production may wind up the lowest in six years.
"Monday's crop ratings showed losses on par with the damage seen during the
1988 drought if these conditions persist," said Bryce Knorr, senior editor for
Farm Futures Magazine.
That is a far cry from early estimates. Corn production had been projected
to hit a record high this year, approaching nearly 15 billion bushels, as U.S.
farmers planted the most acreage since the late 1930s to capture profits from
the highest corn prices ever.
"Weather so far has taken almost 4 billion bushels off the corn crop, so a
lot of demand must still be rationed," Knorr said.
An MDA Earthsat Weather tour of the crops in the Midwest this week showed
the devastating effects of drought in the eastern Midwest states of Indiana and
In Putnam County, Indiana the crop scouts did not even stop to inspect corn
fields because it was assumed the crop was so poor that farmers would plow it
under rather than try to harvest nothing.
(Reporting by Sam Nelson; Editing by John Picinich)