U.S. Farm Belt digging out from snowstorm; cold spell ahead

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A winter storm dumped up to a foot of snow on parts of Kansas and lesser amounts across the central and eastern Midwest in the past day, aiding winter wheat crops but slowing the transport of grains and livestock, meteorologists said Wednesday.

* The heaviest snowfall hit central and northeastern Kansas, a state that has endured months of dry conditions.

* In Iowa, a major hog producer, snow falls ranged from 5 to 6 inches in southern part of the state, 2 to 4 inches through central Iowa, and little to none in northern Iowa.

* In Central Illinois, 6 to 9 inches of snow had fallen by Wednesday morning, with 2 to 3 inches near the Illinois-Wisconsin border.

* The snow should help recharge soil moisture and insulate dormant wheat from frigid temperatures expected through Friday and again this weekend.

* Temperatures were forecast to drop to 15 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 26 Celsius) across parts of Iowa and Minnesota by Thursday morning, with readings of minus 5 to minus 10 from Nebraska to northern Illinois, said Harvey Freese of Freese-Notis Weather Inc.

* The National Weather Service warned of wind chills dropping to 20 to 30 degrees below zero in parts of northeast Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and central Illinois.

* Temperatures will moderate slightly Saturday, when more snow is expected in the Midwest, followed by another cold spell early next week that could send readings near zero F (minus 18 C) as far south as Cincinnati, Ohio.

* Temperature should turn milder in the Midwest after Tuesday but remain below normal.

* In South America, conditions in Brazil's corn and soy belt should remain mostly dry for the next week to 10 days, with better potential for showers in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul next week.

* The dry conditions are stressing late-filling soybeans but helping the harvest of mature crops, said Joel Widenor, a meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group.

* In Argentina, rains favored central Cordoba and areas near the border of Santa Fe and Entre Rios provinces, with less coverage to the south than expected. The moisture will help corn and soybean crops, while flooding threats should be very localized, Widenor said.


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