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Across the Corn Belt, a cold front extends southward from the Great Lakes region. Very warm weather in advance of the front prevails in the eastern Corn Belt, while cool conditions cover the upper Midwest. Due to weather challenges that led to extremely late planting, only slightly more than one-half of the U.S. corn (57%) and soybeans (53%) were rated in good to excellent condition on July 7.

On the Plains, a few showers and thunderstorms linger early Wednesday from Kansas to the Dakotas, accompanied by below-normal temperatures. In contrast, hot, humid weather prevails on the southern Plains, where crop conditions are not optimal due to earlier issues with late planting and excessive wetness. For example, more than one-quarter (27%) of the Texas cotton crop was rated in very poor to poor condition on July 7.

In the South, formation of a tropical cyclone is imminent over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The fledgling system continues to focus locally heavy showers and thunderstorms from the central Gulf Coast to the southern Atlantic Coast. Farther inland, hot, humid weather favors a rapid pace of crop development.

In the West, cool weather in the Pacific Coast states contrasts with building heat in the Great Basin and the Southwest. Drought persists in the Pacific Northwest, despite the cool conditions and scattered showers.

A low-pressure system centered over the northern Gulf of Mexico will continue to acquire tropical characteristics and should become a named storm (Barry) later this week. Regardless of development, excessive rainfall should occur in the central Gulf Coast region and environs, with five-day totals expected to exceed 10 inches in some locations. A broader area of the South and East will experience locally heavy showers, in part due to the interaction between tropical moisture and a cold front. In contrast, only widely scattered showers will dot the Plains, Rockies and upper Midwest, while dry weather will prevail in California and the Great Basin.

Looking ahead, the six- to 10-day outlook calls for hotter-than-normal weather nationwide, except for near- or below-normal temperatures in the Northwest. Meanwhile, near- or above-normal rainfall across most of the country, including the Mississippi Valley and the Midwest, should contrast with drier-than-normal weather in the Great Basin, the central and southern High Plains and the Northeast.

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Greg Soulje, a professional meteorologist since 1985, offers national agricultural weather forecasts via "This Week in Agribusiness."