(NEW YORK) — The blistering heat behind the bone dry soil is creating major problems for farmers across the corn-belt states.
“We’re in a critical point, could be the beginning of the end,” said Dave Kestel, a farmer.
In Manhattan, Ill., where Kestel is a fourth-generation corn farmer, they are praying for rain. His plants are almost two feet shorter than they should be at this point in the season and the next two weeks are critical.
During the next 14 days, Kestel’s corn plants begin the pollination period. Without the right amount of moisture, his corn crop will be lost.
“If heat and dry weather continue…kernels will just die,” Kestel told ABC News.
It was supposed to be the best corn harvest in decades, but now farmers fear a repeat of the 1988 drought that wiped out millions of acres of corn and caused billions in crop damage, the worst crop setback since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Experts say consumers could end up feeling the pinch in their pocketbook. As much as 75 percent of the products in your grocery store use corn as a key ingredient. Things like cereal, peanut butter and soda could all be affected in the coming months.
“That’s going to raise the price of corn,” said Ricky Volpe, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research economist, “which is immediately going to raise the price of feed, of grains that goes into producing a lot of other foods, a lot of our meat and dairy, and so on and so forth. And that’s going to translate into an increase in the price of retail.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tara Bench, KSL.com
Sara Weber, Deseret News
David Goldman, CNN
Jeff Peterson, Deseret News