Heavy rains damage some Nebraska, Iowa crops

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - Heavy rains damaged some corn and soybean fields in Iowa and Nebraska on Monday with more rain expected in U.S. corn belt states this week, meteorologists said on Tuesday.

From 3 to 5 inches of rain fell in north central Iowa, northeastern Nebraska, southeast South Dakota and southern Minnesota in the past day - a fallout from the violent storms that moved through the central Plains and Midwest on Monday.

Four tornadoes tracked across northeastern Nebraska, with one striking the small town of Pilger, killing one person.

Rains will linger over the next two days in the upper Midwest before shifting southward into the southern Midwest, central Plains and Delta where winter wheat harvest is underway, forecasters said. "Wetness is the problem and they are going to see more rain," said Don Keeney, an agricultural meteorologist with MDA Weather Services, citing flooding and disease pressure in Nebraska and Iowa. "North central Iowa could see 3 more inches of rain in the next three days," Keeney said.

But crop damage was seen as localized and Chicago Board of Trade corn and soybeans markets were falling early Tuesday as yield prospects remain strong given USDA's high weekly crop ratings released late Monday, traders said.

Don Roose, president of brokerage U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa, said: "Nebraska and Iowa had quite a bit of damage. But it usually is hard to move the market. The wet weather and the greenhouse effect makes up for some of the damage that we have, by far." The western Corn Belt is expected to turn dry over the weekend when the rains move southward, the Commodity Weather Group said in its daily newsletter. "The six to 15 day holds the main threat for wheat harvest delays and an increase in quality concerns. Wettest areas appear likely to focus from Kansas and Oklahoma into the Delta," CWG said.