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(Reuters) - The worst U.S. drought in a half century loosened its grip on the Midwest in the past week, helped by rain and cooler temperatures, but the drought grew more dire in the northern Plains, a report from climate experts said on Thursday.

But the improved Midwest weather arrived too late for crops in major farm states such as Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, where severe corn and soybean yield losses have already been realized.

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