WILL COUNTY, Ill. (CBS) — The scorching heat wave left behind lots of shriveled corn and only compounded the effects of weeks of drought.

Dave Kestel, a Will County farmer, says the story is in the fields, where plants are markedly smaller.

“This one should be at least two feet taller than it this,” he tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.

Kestel says he hasn’t seen it this dry since 1988, and the worst may be yet to come. The corn crop is just now entering the critical pollination, or tasseling phase.

Each tassel represents one kernel of corn. And the tassels, or silks, can grow two inches a day — but not without water.

“It’s so dry now, the corn plant’s  going to have a hard time trying to push that much silk to try to continue to pollinate the kernels,” Kestel says.

Mark Schneidewind of the Will County Farm Bureau offers a grim outlook.

“If we don’t have any rain in another 7 to 10 days … we’re going to start seeing crop losses, major ones, in this area” he says.

On the futures markets, the heat and drought has already had its impact on corn prices. They’ve surged 41 percent. But that’s little comfort for local farmers.

Tim Hannagan, head grain analyst for PFGBest.com in Chicago, says higher crop prices means livestock farmers will have to pay more to feed their animals. That will result in significantly higher prices for meat consumers.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Kris Kridel reports