"A good two inches of rain from Mother Nature would sure cure a lot of problems," he said.
On Greg Sharpe's 400-acre farm in northeast Missouri, the drought has left the corn plants three feet (one metre) shorter than they should be. Sharpe said the combined heat and drought this spring and summer was the worst he had seen in 35 years.
"We could still have a good bean crop, but it better rain quickly," Sharpe said.
Sharpe's sole compensation may come from crop insurance. "It will be the biggest claim I ever had," he said.
The dry spell has seen U.S. crop ratings fall for five weeks in a row and wrecked what many crop analysts had projected to be a bumper crop this autumn after spring planting went smoothly.
Before the drought, the Agriculture Department estimated farmers would produce a near-record corn crop and harvest an average of 166 bushels of corn from 96 million acres. But traders said the recent price rise reflected a yield closer to 140 bushels to 145 bushels an acre.
"Moisture demands from the plant have increased during this time period and there is just no moisture in the soil to draw from," said Shawn McCambridge, an analyst at brokers Jefferies Bache. "You still need the moisture, especially at this time of year when the crop is pollinating.
The government said the rating on soybeans had dropped to 40 percent good to excellent from 45 percent the prior week.
Weather forecasts on Monday for the U.S. Corn Belt, which stretches from Nebraska to Ohio, were grim. While temperatures have moderated from a peak of triple-digit heat in recent days, in many stressed areas, rainfall is nowhere on the horizon.
Even where some rainfall has been predicted, it is not expected to help and some farmers on the southern tier of the Corn Belt have already plowed up withered corn into silage, a cheap feed.
"Where they could get some improvement, across the central and western Midwest, it doesn't look like they are going to get much rain," Kyle Tapley, an agricultural meteorologist with MDA EarthSat Weather/CropCAST, said.
"We got a break in the temperatures over the weekend but no rain of significance is in sight for the next seven days," said Jim Keeney, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Kansas City, Missouri.
"A drought doesn't have to be hot," said Sterling Smith, a grain analyst for Citigroup in Chicago. "A drought means no rain, and that's where we are." (Additional reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City and Christine Stebbins, Mark Weinraub and Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by Peter Bohan and David Brunnstrom)