Extreme drought affecting corn crops, grocery prices

CARAWAY, AR (KAIT) – It's been considered the worst drought in recent memory.

Nationwide, an extreme lack of rain and irrigation in the Midwest have led to failing crops.

However, this year's corn crop is expected to be the 3rd largest in U-S history, as the shear amount of corn acreage across America is the largest ever recorded.

Despite this extreme lack of rain, the harvest is looking earlier than ever.

By the first week of August, Caraway farmer Clayton Miller expects to harvest nearly 1,000 acres of this commodity--which is 2 weeks early.

But this good news has come with its fair share of hardship.

During the growing season, Miller Farms burned through 2,000 gallons of diesel per week.

Fortunately, at this stage of growth, he can finally shut the pumps down.

"Well, a lot of diesel. It's really been hard on us having to buy enough fuel to keep our water going but without the diesel, we wouldn't have a crop."

Arkansas Farm Bureau Economist Matt King says a record-warm spring allowed farmers early access to normally dormant fields, planting weeks ahead of schedule.

"That allowed us to take advantage of some of those cooler nights we had earlier. Corn pollinated earlier, before we hit all this hot, dry weather."

Miller says they started selling corn around $5.50 a bushel, expecting a surplus.

But then came the scorching heat that killed off the majority of Midwest corn fields, driving December corn up to $7.80 per bushel--less than 20 cents away from it's all-time high of $7.99.

In the face of such extreme drought, Region 8 has escaped with minor damage.

Thanks to furrow irrigation and improved corn genetics, farmers are expecting 250 bushels per acre, something rarely seen in Arkansas.

In the meantime, Miller is keeping his mind off the numbers because anything can happen.

"Trying to get ready for harvest around here. We're cutting off the water, rolling up the pipe."

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