DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Drought conditions have worsened across parts of the Midwest in the last week, including in the nation's leading corn-producing state as Iowa cooked in record-breaking temperatures that topped 100 degrees.
Farmers in Iowa and other neighboring states are now expecting this year's drought to reduce the fall harvest for corn and soybeans, though the impact isn't expected to be as bad as last year's drought — the worst since the 1950s.
According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday, about 98 percent of Iowa is in some level of drought. That's down slightly from the week before, but the area of the state in severe drought expanded to 32 percent from 22 percent from the previous week.
In the middle of Iowa's severe drought region, Kyle Phillips is growing corn and soybeans on about 3,800 acres in central Iowa near Knoxville. The farmer expects his corn crop to be reduced by as much as 20 percent.
He said the corn was in good shape up until about three weeks ago, before the heat set in, and no significant rain has fallen in much of the area for a nearly month. Soybeans are a big worry now, he said. Plants are shorter than normal and haven't had enough moisture to fully develop.
"The soybeans, I'm really worried about. They just haven't had any rains on them all the time they were filling their pods," he said. "It's just going to be a waiting game to see where we're at, but I'm not anticipating a good result."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 16 percent of corn and 15 percent of soybeans were rated in very poor to poor condition as of Sunday. But a year ago, near the height of the drought, very poor to poor ratings stood at 52 percent of the corn and 37 percent of the soybeans.