Only minor relief from the drought stressing U.S. cropsLittle relief from the near relentless drought in the U.S. Midwest corn and soybean growing area was seen in fresh weather forecast maps on Thursday, with only minor amounts of rain expected in some areas over the next week to 10 days, an agricultural meteorologist said.

"There's not much change in the forecast. Some light rains are expected in the southeast Midwest into the weekend and some showers in the eastern Dakotas," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Rainfall amounts from 0.30 to 0.80 inch were expected in the southeastern Midwest and in the Dakotas, but virtually no rain was likely elsewhere, he said.

High temperatures for the next week were forecast to hover in the upper 80s to low 90s degrees Fahrenheit, he said.

"Overall it's not as threatening as last week, but still no organized rain event so it's still not a great forecast," Dee said.

There was a chance of rainfall later next week. "For the second half of next week there could be some rainfall of 0.30 to 0.80 inch with about 75 to 80 percent coverage of the Midwest," Dee said.

The U.S. weather model on Thursday indicated light rainfall could spread from the Dakotas into much of the Midwest late this week, but "confidence is low in that forecast," he said.

Drought and heat in the U.S. led the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday to slash its corn production forecast to 12.970 billion bushels from its previous outlook for 14.790 billion and below the record crop of 13.1 billion bushels produced in 2009.

USDA on Monday dropped its estimate for U.S. corn good-to-excellent condition rating to 40 percent from the previous 48 percent. Traders expected a further decline in conditions in the USDA weekly crop progress report to be released this coming Monday.

The agency pegged U.S. soybean conditions at 40 percent good-to-excellent, down from 45 percent the previous week, and in its July crop report pegged 2012 U.S. soybean production at 3.050 billion bushels, down from the previous forecast for 3.205 billion.

The government will update its U.S. corn and soybean production forecasts in its next report which will be released on August 10.

(Reporting By Sam Nelson; Editing by John Picinich)