Critical time for corn crop, heat and drought not helping

By Audrey Williams

July 5, 2012 Updated Jul 5, 2012 at 10:14 PM CDT

TRIVOLI, Ill -- The high heat and lack of rain continues to take its toll in Central Illinois. Both livestock and crop farmers are begging for some relief as their livelihoods suffer.

Jack Stevens has been farming in Trivoli for over 50 years. He farms almost 350 acres and has close to 200 head of cattle.

Stevens said the high heat and drought conditions are making life challenging, "I'm out in it all day long. But it's been difficult for the livestock and for the crops. The crops are probably suffering the worst right now."

Patrick Kirchhofer with the Peoria County Farm Bureau said it is a critical time for the corn crop right now, "It's pollinating. We'll know in two weeks how well the corn pollinated."

"If you don't get pollination you don't have the grain," said Stevens.

Kirchhofer said even after pollination, rain will be critical, "If we continue the dryness, the corn that did pollinate is just going to start to abort kernels on the cob."

The heat is also stressful on the cattle. Stevens said in this heat he alters his feed schedule.

"Before 7:00 I'll have them fed in the morning so they can go ahead and get back under the shade before it gets hot," he said. "Then in the evening they don't usually come in for feed until sun goes down and gets dark."

Long term this weather may mean higher prices for the consumer.

"Their food product does come from here and it is difficult getting a product on the table right now. Look what's happening with the grain markets right now, they've been going up steadily everyday and as the grain prices go up that's the input into food products," said Stevens.

For now prayers may be the only answer.

"Any rain that we get from here on out is going to be a blessing," said Kirchhofer.

"We can't make it rain, only the Lord can take care of us there," added Stevens.