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Outside of drought areas, farmers predict strong year

Corn plants dry in a drought-stricken farm field on July 17, 2012 near Fritchton, Ind. Farmers who've escaped the drought are pulling in high prices for their crops.

Stacey Vanek Smith: This summer's drought shows no signs of letting up. The National Drought Mitigation Center says nearly two-thirds of states are suffering under hot and dry conditions. Bad news, of course, for farmers in those states.

But as Dan Gorenstein reports, growers in the rest of the country could see a bump.


Dan Gorenstein: Watching the news lately has been kinda scary for LeeAnn VanDerPol.

LeeAnn VanDerPol: Pictures of Illinois and Indiana, and their crops are pretty much gone. More than even in the fall when the corn turns brown, it's just dried up.

When VanDerPol looks across her 320 acres in western Minnesota, she sees green. Spring rains and moderate temperatures in the upper Midwest and the Dakotas makes all the difference.

Mike Duffy: In some of the places, they've just gotten excellent rains right when they needed them.

Iowa State economist Mike Duffy.

Duffy: We always talk about a million-dollar rain, because that's how much grain it will generate.

Duffy says corn prices have nearly doubled, and could keep rising.

But forecasts predict the drought could spread even to VanDerPol's farm Pastures of Plenty.

VanDerPol: You can smell, like the cornfields are almost cooking. It's almost like a sweet corn smell in the air.

VanDerPol says she rather smell wet dirt. She hopes the weatherman is right -- who expects some million-dollar rain later this week.

I'm Dan Gorenstein for Marketplace.

About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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