The Corn Belt is sizzling under Mother Nature’s current weather pattern of dry, oppressive heat. Some experts now anticipate that the 2012 Midwest drought could have the greatest impact on American agriculture since 1988. The USDA has already slashed its yield estimates for corn down to 146 bushels per acre, down 20 bushels per acre from estimates last month. 

Forecasts show little – if any – relief for much of the Corn Belt baking in this summer's relentless heat.

"There's not much change in the forecast. Some light rains are expected in the southeast Midwest into the weekend and some showers in the eastern Dakotas," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring told Reuters. 

Those lucky enough to see rain should expect less than an inch -- far less than needed to make a dent in the drought impact.

There is a chance of rain in some areas later next week.

The heat and diminished rainfall could affect the maturity and eventual production of the crop, according to AccuWeather.com

The Drought Monitor, released today, showed the impact the drought is having on the majority of the Corn Belt:

State

Nothing

Abnormally Dry
(D0)

Moderate Drought
(D1)

Severe Drought (D2)

Extreme Drought
(D3

Exceptional Drought
(D4)

Arkansas

0.00

0.21

7.12

22.10

67.32

3.25

Illinois

0.00

0.00

33.72

58.15

7.45

0.68

Indiana

0.00

0.60

19.25

50.38

29.37

0.40

Iowa

0.00

33.6

53.70

12.70

0.00

0.00

Kansas

0.00

0.00

19.82

52.23

27.95

0.00

Missouri

0.00

4.06

13.40

73.02

9.52

0.00

Nebraska

0.00

0.18

45.25

52.54

2.03

0.00

Ohio

0.00

21.96

68.11

9.93

0.00

0.00

Earlier this week, analysts looked at the nation’s crop, noting that futures markets could be flirting with $10 per bushel corn and nearly $20 per bushel soybeans. Read more.

Currently, soil moisture profiles are the lowest reported since 1895. We have also experience second driest June since the Dust Bowl. Much of the country already needs 15 to 20 inches of rain.

“It is really getting too late to help this corn crop,” AgResource Company President Dan Basse said. “You might fill out a few kernels better, but it won’t cause much of a change in the corn yield.”