“In 35 years of farming grain crops I’ve never been hit this hard by heat and drought — it’s the worst I’ve seen,” says Hannover County, Va., grower Wayne Kirby.

Growers from the Florida Panhandle to the Northern Neck of Virginia echo the Virginia grower’s sentiments. For pockets of farmers throughout the upper Southeast, 2010 wiped out much of the economic gain they made with the two previous years of good crops.

“We knew we would get maybe 10 bushels of corn per acre, but we went ahead and got what we could, thinking we could settle up with the crop insurance folks later. Otherwise, in our area, the drought is so widespread, it would be well into next year before we get paid — there will just be too many claims to handle,” Kirby says.