Narrow window for U.S. corn plantings next week

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Drier weather by the weekend into early next week will boost U.S. corn plantings that have fallen to the slowest pace in nearly three decades, an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday.

"There is good news and bad news. The good news is it will be drier for a few days and the bad news is there will be more showers later next week," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Dee said rainfall would end on Friday in the Midwest crop belt, drier weather is expected Saturday through Wednesday, then light showers of 0.50 inch or less with widespread coverage is expected later next week.

"A little heavier rain is likely by next weekend of 0.30 inch to 0.80 inch or more," he said. "So planting weather has improved, but it's not ideal."

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) said Friday there would be five drier days in the U.S. Corn Belt early next week that would permit farmers to plant corn or soybeans.

But "a significant storm is then likely to stall fieldwork across most of the Midwest once again next weekend," said CWG meteorologist Joel Widenor.

Widenor said a cold snap was likely Sunday and Monday near the Great Lakes, but very little damage to crops is expected.

"Warmer temperatures will quickly return, with highs in the 70s (degrees Fahrenheit) (21 C) to mid-80s F (26 C) across the corn belt," he said.

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

Soybean planting was 2 percent complete by Sunday, 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 were interrupted by storms at mid-week.

Seeding progress fell short of trade expectations, including a Reuters poll of 14 analysts ahead of USDA's report that pegged corn planting at 15 percent complete. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)


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