The worst drought since 1988 has gripped a large portion of the Midwest, shriveling corn yields and producer profits.

The drought and heat could not have come at a worse time, according to grain analyst Richard Brock, with Brock Associates. “Early planted corn has turned out to be a detriment because it has matured too early. All this heat is hitting during the pollination period.

“The heat is hurting a lot more than people have recognized. There are some areas where the proven yields are 220 bushels to 225 bushels an acre that could end up less than 100 bushels, maybe as low as 70 bushels.”

The dry weather will not only impact yield but harvested acres of corn as well, as producers disk up dead and dying plants, Brock says.

The Midwest drought extends from Bloomington, Ill., south and east. “North of Bloomington and most of Minnesota and Iowa are still in pretty good shape,” Brock said. “But crops that were in good shape five or six days ago, where there was no rain and temperatures over 100 degrees, we’ve seen some considerable deterioration.”

According to meteorologist Drew Lerner, World Weather, Inc., the culprit for the drought is a high pressure ridge over the Midwest. The ridge, which has strengthened more than meteorologists had anticipated, “dried down the topsoil to the point where there is no moisture feedback into the atmosphere,” Lerner said. “So there’s nothing to stimulate any kind of cooling.”