DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some cornstalks in fields around the farm where David Kellerman works stand tall, but appearances can be deceiving. When the husks are pulled back, the cobs are empty. No kernels developed as the plants struggled with heat and drought.
The soil in Kellerman's part of southern Illinois is like dust after less than an inch of rain since mid-April. This week, he and the farmer he works with packed it in. They cut and baled the withered plants to use as hay for their cattle.
As the worst drought in nearly 25 years spreads across the nation, farmers in Illinois and Indiana are finding themselves among the hardest hit. But they are not alone, and conditions are likely to get worse throughout the middle of the country with an unusually hot summer in the forecast.
Almost a third of the nation's corn crop is already showing signs of damage, and today the U.S. Department of Agriculture released yet another report predicting that farmers will get only a fraction of the corn anticipated last spring when they planted 96.4 million acres, the most since 1937.