all photos taken on 7/24/2012 by CraneStation on flickr

US Drought Outlook (hat tip cmaukonen)
US Drought Monitor, updated frequently (hat tip Missouri Mule)

These are popcorn fields in Western Kentucky near our home. One owner, who wished to remain anonymous explained that no one in the area has crop insurance, and that everyone will likely lose the crops. Of the fields we photographed, his looked the best because they are lowland fields. The lowland corn is pictured in the first three photos. Some of the corn growers may chop the fields down for silage. As you can see in the other photos, the creek beds are very low or dry (pictured). One ear we photographed had exposed kernels that appeared unhealthy and below the usual number.

This area relies on nature for water. It is usually extremely lush with swollen creek beds full of small blue gill fish. Many of these beds are dry or very low.

The popcorn grower we spoke to also confirmed the practice among livestock farmers in the region of selling animals for slaughter due to the pressures of drought this season.

Today it was 103 F, and there is no rain in the forecast. As far as corn is concerned, many growers have given up on this year’s crop.

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Lowland popcorn ear, showing less than normal number of kernels, click to enlarge.

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More lowland popcorn

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Lowland

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Corn that is not below the water table

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Dry creek bed

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Our area today:

…EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT EXPANDS SLIGHTLY…

SYNOPSIS…

THE TWO AREAS OF EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT /D4/ FROM LAST WEEK HAVE BEEN
MERGED. IN KENTUCKY…THIS AREA COVERS MUCH OF HENDERSON…UNION…
MCLEAN…CRITTENDEN…CALDWELL…LYON…LIVINGSTON…MCCRACKEN…
BALLARD AND CARLISLE. IT ALSO COVERS THE OHIO RIVER AREAS OF POSEY
AND VANDERBURGH COUNTIES IN SOUTHWEST INDIANA AND FROM SHAWNEETOWN
TO CAIRO ALONG THE RIVER IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. EXTREME DROUGHT /D3/
COVERS ALL OF SOUTHWEST INDIANA…WEST KENTUCKY…MOST OF SOUTHEAST
MISSOURI…AND IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS…THE AREA SOUTH OF A LINE FROM
MURPHYSBORO TO MOUNT CARMEL. SEVERE DROUGHT /D2/ COVERS THE REST OF
THE REGION.

SUMMARY OF IMPACTS…

SOIL MOISTURE CONDITIONS.
SOIL MOISTURE DEFICITS CONTINUE TO INCREASE ACROSS THE REGION.
NINETY TO 100 PERCENT OF THE REGION`S TOPSOIL AND SUBSOIL IS
REPORTED AS SHORT OR VERY SHORT.

AGRICULTURAL IMPACTS.
MANY CROPS ARE SHOWING STRESS ACROSS THE REGION AND THE SITUATION IS
BECOMING DIRE FOR MANY FARMERS. A MAJORITY OF THE CORN AND SOYBEANS
ARE LISTED POOR OR VERY POOR. INCREASING AMOUNTS OF LIVESTOCK AND
FIELDS ARE SHOWING STRESS. THE PERCENTAGE OF PASTURES IN THE AREA
RATED AS POOR AND VERY POOR CONTINUES TO GROW. PONDS ACROSS THE
REGION ARE DRY OR DRYING QUICKLY.

Source.