Indiana's crop loss could be northeast Ohio's gain - with another cooling shower or two.
By the middle of last week, most crops in Ohio were listed as critical and large portions of the crops in the states west of Ohio already were ranked ''beyond help.'' Corn prices just about doubled since planting based on projected yields.
But planting in northeast Ohio happened just enough later to make all the difference, David Marrison, agriculture and natural resources educator for the Ohio State University Extension in Trumbull County, said.
The late June and early July heat wave sweltered over western Ohio, western Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and more western states during the two- to three-week pollination window there.
''You get above 86 degrees and corn and soybean plants shut down,'' Marrison said.
But corn tasseling and soybean flowering - the pollination process that produces crop yield - is happening here through this week, depending on the type of corn and planting date.
''If we can get some rain, we sure can benefit from the drought out west,'' Marrison said earlier this month. The average water use of a corn crop during pollination and early grain fill is about a third of an inch a day.
''The rains before the Fourth of July carried us over,'' Marrison said. ''It would be nice to see another inch of rain come down over the stretch.''
On Thursday, a heavy rainfall hit the area. The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna recorded 1.25 inches of rain by 5 p.m. That plus about 2 inches that fell July 3 and 4 accounts for most of the month's rainfall.
Robert Miller of W.I. Miller & Son in Gustavus said that doesn't mean area crops escaped damage.
''I know we're hurting. It's just a matter of how much. I'm really surprised how much our corn is holding on with the heat we had.''
At the beginning of the planting season, corn prices looked to be about $4 to $4.50 a bushel. Now, prices are going to more than $8 a bushel, he said.
''But if you don't have any corn to sell, it doesn't matter if it's $15,'' Miller said.
''I don't know how to evaluate how much damage is done until after pollination occurs,'' he said. ''I'm hoping it will be make 100 bushels an acre. The last two years, we were over 200. They're in the 88 to 90 bushel range out west, and it can be weaker.''
Miller said the wheat harvest came in at 100 percent capacity and oats were about 90 percent. But barley suffered from the heat and came in at about 50 percent of capacity, he said.
''We're hoping for 50 percent from the beans,'' he said. ''Beans are going to hang on for a long time. The rain will help.''
Richard Houk of Green and Golden Farm in Newton Township said rainfall was way down the first half of July, during the brunt of the heat.
''The last rain we had was Sunday (July 15), which was three-tenths of an inch. On the fourth, we had one and eight-tenths of an inch. So we've had two and one-tenth of an inch of rain out of the last two weeks,'' he said Tuesday.
''Right now, the crop doesn't look too bad. They're suffering. We need another inch of rain in the next two weeks or we're really going to be hurting. So right now is a critical time.''
Houk said theirs isn't of the larger crop production farms. ''We put in 260 acres of corn and about that much, a little less, in beans.
''Our average yield here is about 180 bushels (of corn) per acre. Now we're looking at 150 bushes, if that.
''Our soybeans average about 75 bushels an acres. Right now, we're at 45, 50 bushels. So it will be a challenge,'' Houk said. ''Even that, that's the break-even point.''
Near Du Bois, Ill., farmer David Kellerman finally gave up when the temperature hit 108 three days in a row. Corn won't develop kernels if it gets too warm during pollination, and Kellerman knew the empty cobs in his fields would never fill out.
Just after the Fourth of July, he and the neighbor he farms cut down the entire crop and baled the withered plants to use as hay for their cattle.
Almost a third of the nation's corn crop has been damaged by heat and drought, and a number of farmers in the hardest hit areas of the Midwest have cut down their crops just midway through the growing season.
The trickle-down factor is huge, Miller said.
Ethanol plants can be shut down, crimping associated industry. Gasoline contains between 5 and 10 percent ethanol, a product of corn.
Corn and soybeans are ingredients that make up much of food supply from animal feed to processed products for human consumption, which raises food prices.
Since feed will cost so much and could be in short supply, livestock herds will be reduced, not only removing product from the market, but reducing the need for corn the following year.
''Once you do that kind of stuff, it takes a while to come out of it,'' Miller said.
Marrison said shoppers definitely will see the difference. Not only will there be less livestock, it's more difficult to keep what remains.
''We're coming out of a difficult hay production last year because of the opposite reason - last year it was too wet,'' Marrison said. This year, quality has been poor and second cuttings rare.
Meanwhile, farmers are feeding extra hay to the livestock because there's less grass for grazing.
''You're going to see higher food prices this fall because of the higher costs,'' Marrison said. ''Maybe before this fall.''
An offsetting factor is crop technology.
Corn production has been improving steadily for decades, the result of scientific advances going back to the introduction of the first commercial hybrid in 1923. Genetic engineering accelerated the process in recent years and allowed the development of some strains that borrow DNA from other species for pest resistance.
Corn farmers expected this to be a record year when they planted, sowing 96.4 million acres, the most since 1937. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted they would get 166 bushels per acre.
But after months with little or no rain and extreme heat in large portions of the Corn Belt, the USDA on Wednesday revised that estimate, saying it now expects farmers to average just 146 bushels per acre this year.
That would still be an improvement from a decade ago, when the average was about 129 bushels. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack still expects the nation to produce the third-largest corn crop in American history, even as he announced disaster-relief measures for farmers, like Kellerman, who have lost everything.
"It is important to point out that improved seed technology and improved efficiencies on the farm have made it a little bit easier for some producers to get through a very, very difficult weather stretch," Vilsack said. "Our hope is rains come to the central part of the United States soon to be able to salvage what can be salvaged."
The drought stretches from parts of Ohio to California. The historic drought that gripped Texas and other parts of the Southwest last year was more severe, but this year's dry spell is notable for the sheer size of the affected land.
"To see something on this continental scale, where we're seeing such a large portion of the country in drought, you have to go back to 1988," said Brad Rippey, a USDA agricultural meteorologist.
That year, farmers saw corn yields, or the amount produced per acre, drop by nearly a third.
"All these hybrids that have been produced in the last few years are built for drought tolerance so we have a little more hope that they will be able to withstand some of this heat, more so than they would have say 10 years ago," said Garry Niemeyer, who grows corn and soybeans in Auburn, Ill., and is president of the National Corn Growers Association.
He said plants have been developed with a larger root mass, which allows them to reach deeper for water and hold more in reserve. Certain varieties also are capable of rolling up their leaves to slow moisture loss.
"There's a lot of technology that goes into our corn crop," Niemeyer said.
Still, it's hard to say how the year will turn out with about half of the growing season to go.
Corn plants today withstand drought better than they did in 1988, but no variety exists that can produce significant yields without rain for six weeks and sustained temperatures above 100 degrees, said Tony Vyn, an agronomy professor at Purdue University.
"You get to the point where the water shortage is so severe that technology is not going to guarantee yield, even when you might have that expectation," he said. "My experience thus far is that drought-tolerant hybrids are no silver bullet."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.