June 26, 2012 / 12:53 PM / 8 years ago

Crops to bake in dry heat this week

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Searing heat and dry weather across the U.S. Midwest this week will increase stress on corn and soybean plants, already hurt by a lack of rain this month, agricultural meteorologists said on Tuesday.

Farmer Michael Reynolds of Calvert County, MD. inspects some of his corn that has wilted under the intense heat and drought conditions that have plagued the area this summer, July 28 1999.

“With this heat and dryness there certainly will be more damage done,” said Don Keeney of Cropcast, a division of MDA EarthSat Weather.

Triple-digit Fahrenheit temperatures are forecast late this week and into the weekend, with little, if any, rain expected, he said.

“There could be light rain of 0.10 to 0.25 inch in areas such as northern Indiana and northern Illinois, but not enough to help,” Keeney said.

The hot, dry weather should continue next week, although the American weather model did indicate some rain while the European model indicated did not.

The midday update of the American weather model was a little wetter for the northern areas of the Corn Belt for the weekend and a little drier for farms west of the Mississippi River, said David Streit, ag meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group.

“But there weren’t any major shifts,” added Streit, who expects the hot, dry weather forecast for the next few days to cut crop yields in the southwestern Midwest.

Temperatures in the 90s to 100s F (32 to 38 Celsius) are likely Wednesday and Thursday.

“That coincides with the onset of pollination for 20 percent of the national corn producing area from Kansas though Missouri and into central and southern Illinois,” Streit said.

The bulk of the U.S. corn crop will pollinate — the key yield determining phase — between now and mid-July. Good yields are critical this year as U.S. corn and soybean stocks are historically low given big world demand to meet both food and fuel needs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday cut its condition ratings for corn and soybeans to their lowest late-June levels since 1988, following a week of hot and dry weather in important growing areas.

USDA said 56 percent of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition, down 7 percentage points from last week. Soybeans were 53 percent good-to-excellent, down from 56 percent the previous week.

USDA said 10 percent of the corn crop was silking or pollinating as of Sunday, and 12 percent of the soybean crop was blooming.

Both CWG and Cropcast tend to favor the European weather forecast model that looks drier than the American model.

“We’re favoring the European model,” said Cropcast forecaster Keeney. “If the American model comes through, there could be from 0.50 inch to 1.00 inch of rain over a broad area of the Midwest next week.”

Strait said: “It gets really critical the first week in July. That’s when another 30 percent of the crop pollinates, a strip from southeastern Nebraska though the heart of Iowa, central Illinois and parts of Indiana.”

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

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