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Farmers: Drought Disaster Looms For Crops

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Farmers in Will County are worried that continued hot weather and no rain will greatly reduce crop yield. (CBS)

Farmers in Will County are worried that continued hot weather and no rain will greatly reduce crop yield. (CBS)

Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – We haven’t reached drought conditions yet, but farmers in Will County say things could go from bad to worse very soon.

Farmers have their eyes on the end of the week, when temperatures could hit triple digits.

There was a cool, comfortable breeze on Dave Kestel’s farm in Will County Monday, but he is very concerned about Wednesday and Thursday and the possibility of 100-degree temperatures at week’s end.

“That will start to beat us up,” he tells CBS 2’s Jim Williams.

In fact, the farmers here have already taken some blows this year because of the unseasonably hot weather and the lack of rain.

“Ideally, we’d like to have an inch every seven to 10 days during the growing season, and we’ve only had about that inch of rain in this area in the last six to seven weeks,” Mark Schneidewind of the Will County Farm Bureau says.

Kestel showed CBS 2 the effects on a neighbor’s farm. Corn leaves had not opened up.

He has 1,300 acres of corn and soybeans. The fourth generation farmer has clear memories of what a bad drought can do. A bad one occurred in 1988.

“We’re still in June,” Kestel says. “That’s the part that’s scary: We’ve got the hottest part of summer yet.”

The worst-case scenario: If the very hot weather continues for a few more weeks, some farmers could lose 40 percent of their crops without any rain.

Many do have insurance, but fewer crops along with the same demand from consumers would certainly mean higher food prices.

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