Drier weather to give big boost to U.S. corn plantings

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Drier weather early this week in the U.S. crop belt will allow active corn plantings, countering the slowest seeding pace in nearly 30 years, an agricultural meteorologist said on Monday.

"It will be dry until near midweek, then light rains will cause some delays, not serious delays, Wednesday into the weekend," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Dee said heavier rainfall was expected beginning next Sunday into early next week that would shut down plantings again throughout the Midwest. "We'll definitely see pretty healthy plantings the first half of this week, then delays again beginning next weekend," he said.

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Monday said at least two-thirds of the Midwest would see planting progress until a major storm spreads across the Corn Belt this weekend and lingers into early next week.

"Rain totals of 1.5 to 2.5 inches, with locally heavier amounts, are likely across the Midwest by this coming weekend, with heaviest rain in the northern third of the Corn Belt," said CWG meteorologist Joel Widenor.

Stalled by rain and late-season snow, U.S. farmers had planted just 12 percent of their intended corn acres as of a week ago, the slowest pace since 1984, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a weekly report last Monday.

Better progress was made last week but the planting pace still is not expected to be up to seasonal averages. The USDA will release updated planting numbers in its weekly crop progress report due late on Monday.

Soybean planting was 2 percent complete by early last week, tied with 1983 and 1993 for the second-slowest place by early May, following the 1984 record of 1 percent.

The five-year average for planting progress at this time of year is 47 percent for corn and 12 percent for soybeans.

Producers working fields in the heart of the U.S. Corn Belt have been bogged down by excessive rainfall and cold soil temperatures.

Seeding progress fell short of trade expectations, including a Reuters poll of 14 analysts, released a week ago, that pegged corn planting at 15 percent complete.

A new Reuters poll on planting expectations will be released later on Monday.

(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; editing by John Wallace)



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