Official parameters to declare a full-on, serious drought for the Corn Belt may not yet have been met.

But with continuing triple-digit temperatures and a lack of rain, the situation could easily tip, says Elwynn Taylor, a veteran Iowa State University Extension climatologist and agronomist.

“For the most part, this is just at the edge of being a serious drought,” says Taylor, who has many followers operating farms and has long warned that significant, widespread drought loomed. “A lot of places are just abnormally dry. Others are at the beginning or middle stages of a drought.

“However, for the most part, we’re not really in severe drought yet — at least for most of the Corn Belt. Of course, a few locations are in severe drought.”

The last major Corn Belt drought struck in 1988. Such droughts usually arrive every 20 years, or so.

Among Taylor’s other comments to Farm Press:

On the 2012 drought…

“We really aren’t far enough into this yet to really make a prognostication on how things will turn out. That is, unless we use a weather forecast and assume it is correct.

“If we do use the weather forecast for ‘continued warmer than normal’ and ‘drier than usual’ all the way through July, then we can expect a significant reduction in the potential corn yield. Or, I should say, a reduction well below the trend-line yields.

“Last year, 2011, saw a well below trend-line corn yield in the United States. The trend is about 160 bushels per acre for corn across the country. Last year, that was at 147.2 bushels – well below the trend but not far enough below to be considered a Corn Belt-wide drought. The trend would have been down to around 144 bushels to legally be a drought.”

On areas outside the Corn Belt…

“We pay attention to everything — let’s talk a bit about the South. The year wasn’t off to as bad a start as (2011) and with the La Niña gone, things aren’t nearly so harsh with precipitation or temperatures.

“Now, of course, there are some areas where it is at least as harsh with 100-degree temperatures that still common. That’s true in Kansas and Oklahoma.