MOLINE, Ill. (AP) _ Negotiators for Deere & Co. and the United Auto Workers union met Wednesday for the third day to try to end a 10-week-old labor dispute idling 13,000 workers at Deere plants in Illinois and Iowa.

This week's meetings are the first since a final contract extension expired Aug. 22 and workers struck three of Deere's 13 plants to draw attention to local labor issues. That prompted the company to shut down its 10 other facilities.

Deere spokesman Bob Shoup said the talks are being held in small committee groups to focus on selected subjects before the complete bargaining teams meet face-to-face.

''We prefer not to put any stamp of optimism or pessimism on them (the meetings),'' union spokesman Carl Mantyla said. ''It's really too early.''

The negotiations come a week after officials from the union and Deere, the world's largest manufacturer of farm equipment, met in Detroit with representatives of a company wanting to undertake a joint venture with Deere.

The company, the General Motors Corp. subsidiary Detroit Diesel Allison, hopes to join forces with Deere to start a new company by the beginning of next year that would use Deere's engine factory at Waterloo, Iowa.

Mantyla said officials at the joint-venture meeting agreed to establish a committee involving all parties to explore the whole range of issues involved in assembling a labor agreement that would cover workers for a joint venture.

Shoup has said the joint-venture factory and its workers would be removed from Deere's master contract with the UAW.

When talks broke off between Deere and UAW in August, Mantyla said Deere was demanding ''takeaways in a number of areas, and they had failed to meet some of our needs in the area of pension and job security.

''We did not have a specific set of plans on the table for detailed amounts,'' he added. ''There was room left for negotiation. Among the key issues were job security, cost of living allowance protection and pension.''