CHICAGO (Reuters) - An open stretch of warm, dry weather in the eastern Corn Belt this week is raising farmers' hopes they will be able to catch up on crop planting after a wet, chilly spring, a forecaster said on Wednesday.
The eastern Midwest was mostly clear on Tuesday and will stay dry except for an occasional light shower through Monday. Temperatures remain above normal, with highs in the mid 80s to low 90s degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 32 Celsius) this week.
"Overall, it's a pretty good forecast with warmer temperatures -- it looks to be the best week for planting the eastern belt as we have had all spring," said Mike Palmerino, forecaster with Telvent DTN.
Ohio and Indiana farmers had been hoping for a break in the spring rains as they lag the national planting average and must decide this week whether to take their prevent planting insurance payout or seed corn. The deadlines to decide in the upper Midwest are May 31 or June 5.
The western Corn Belt will also benefit from warmer temperatures and occasional showers through early next week.
But areas along the Missouri River from North Dakota, Montana, Idaho to Minnesota brace for flooding as the river swells. Farmland further west along the Columbia River system, big wheat country, is also flooding.
The northern Plains will be dry on Wednesday but are expected to see showers of 0.25 to an inch Thursday to Friday. It also was chilly on Wednesday morning as the lows in central North Dakota dipped to 36 F.
The six to 10-day Midwest outlook, Monday to Friday, called for normal to above-normal temperatures and normal to below rainfall.
SOUTHERN PLAINS WHEAT BELT DRY
The southern Plains wheat belt will be mostly clear over the next week, with an occasional light shower, Palmerino said.
Rains last week helped the maturing winter wheat crop improve for the first time this spring. Drought has stressed wheat across southern Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas while crops are in good shape from northern Kansas, northward. USDA rated 44 percent of the crop poor to very poor, up from 45 percent a week ago.
The return of warm, drier weather in the southern Plains puts the southern Kansas wheat crop at risk for more stress as much of it is still in the grain fill stage, Palmerino said.
The six- to 10-day outlook for the southern Plains called for mostly above normal temperatures and near to below normal rainfall.