U.S. Rain This Year Won’t Restore Soil Moisture, Lerner Says

U.S. rain this summer probably won’t be enough to restore soil moisture in corn, soybean and wheat fields after the worst drought since the 1930s hurt crops last year, said Drew Lerner, the president of World Weather Inc..

Precipitation won’t counter the effects of the drought, and parts of the northern and southern Great Plains will be among the driest this summer, Lerner said today in a report. Conditions still will be “much improved” from 2012 in the U.S., the world’s biggest grain and oilseed exporter, he said.

In late April and May, the weather will be wetter than normal in parts of the Plains from Nebraska through Kansas, western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, Lerner said. That may boost crop prospects before dry weather in the summer, he said at an Allendale Inc. conference in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

“If you don’t have moisture in the soil, it’s not good because if it doesn’t rain, it becomes stressful,” said Lerner, who is based in Overland Park, Kansas. South Dakota and Nebraska “are going to look rough this year,” he said.

In 2012, wheat futures in Chicago jumped 19 percent, the biggest gain among 24 raw materials in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index. Corn rose 8 percent, and soybeans advanced 17 percent.

“Large moisture deficits will prevail in the Plains and in a part of the western Corn Belt,” Lerner said in the report. “That may be a constant worry because rainfall will not be abundant enough to restore soil moisture to normal.”

China’s crops will “look very good this year” as cold weather stayed north of the biggest growing areas, Lerner said.

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