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Extreme heat and drought in Illinois damage crop growing

(Xinhua)

15:15, July 18, 2012

Corn struggles to survive in a drought-stricken farm field in Chicago, the United States, on July 17, 2012. The corn and soybean belt in the middle of the nation is experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than five decades. (Xinhua/Jiang Xintong)

YORKVILLE, United States, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Illinois farmer Bob Stewart shook his head as he surveyed his 8,000-acre farm about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Chicago.

According to Stewart, corn should be around eight feet tall by this time of the year while currently they are only about six feet, with many fallen leaves that have wilted brown edges. Unwrapping one of the ears, he laid a tiny yellow cob in the palm of his hand, and inspected the drought in Illinois.

"It's fairly widespread, and most of Illinois is suffering," Stewart told Xinhua, speaking of the extreme heat and dryness that has already ruined nearly 30 percent of his crop.

He added that it had been around two weeks since his farm last saw rain -- a far cry from the one inch of rain per week that the crop needs during the hot June and July.

The damage is not limited to Illinois. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about 55 percent of the contiguous areas in the United States is currently experiencing extreme droughts.

While the baking temperatures may be uncomfortable for urban office clerks, the heat is having a potentially devastating effect upon the American farmers trying to raise their crops in the parched countryside.

According to the latest Agriculture Department report released July 16, 38 percent of the entire U.S. corn crop is currently rated either in poor or very poor condition. And for the U.S. soybean crop, 30 percent was rated poor to very poor.

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