July 20, 2011 / 12:41 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. crops and cattle stressed by hellish heat

* High heat to last through Friday

* Cooler and few showers by the weekend

* Heat returns next Wednesday-Friday

* Pollinating corn getting stressed

* Feedlot cattle and pastures under duress

CHICAGO, July 20 (Reuters) - Mother Nature is hell this week, especially for American farmers and ranchers.

A heatwave has descended on U.S. cropland and pastures, with no relief in sight until the weekend, and then only for a short time.

The hot weather was stressing the pollinating corn crop, and putting grasslands and cattle under duress. Temperatures should cool by the weekend, an agricultural meteorologist forecast Wednesday.

“It’s still hot and humid and it will stay that way this week, a little cooler by the weekend and a few showers can be expected then,” predicted John Dee of Global Weather Monitoring.

He said temperatures would remain in the mid to upper 90s Fahrenheit to low 100s F throughout the Midwest and cool down to the mid to upper 80s F by early next week. Light showers were also forecast for next week.

“There will be some rainfall, mostly 0.2 to 0.6 inch up to an inch in some areas and about 65 percent coverage,” he said. The bulk of the rainfall will be in the northern and eastern Midwest.

An atmospheric high pressure ridge hanging over the Midwest was blocking moisture from moving into the crop belt, as well as causing a buildup of heat.

The hot weather was not only stressing crops and reducing production prospects, but endangering livestock and humans exposed to the searing temperatures.

The ridge will weaken by the weekend, permitting cooler temperatures and some rainfall in the Midwest. But more rain is needed to boost corn and soybean production prospects.

Dee said that unfortunately the cooler weather would be short lived.

“The ridge will reform about mid-week next week so it will be a return to hot and dry conditions Wednesday through Friday,” he forecast.

But “it doesn’t look like the next ridge will last as long,” he added.

A return to cooler temperatures appears likely after the three-day heat spell late next week, Dee said.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat rose 1.5 percent on Wednesday and corn gained around 1 percent, both rising for a second straight session, on worries about the hot weather threatening crops. [GRA/]

Telvent DTN forecast the very hot temperatures would be followed by cooler weather from the weekend through early next week, but then hot weather would return. (Reporting by Sam Nelson; Editing by John Picinich)

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