Worst drought since 1956

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Brothers, Rodney, left, and Rich Byars, of Geff, Ill. walk what was once 40 acres of corn rows, in Geff. The men mowed the field down due to extreme heat and little rain, leaving only four rows standing for an insurance adjuster to inspect. (AP PhotoRobert Ray)
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An empty dock sits on the bottom of a dry cove at Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Ind., Monday, July 16, 2012. The reservoir is down nearly 6 feet from normal levels and being lowered 1 foot every five days to provide water for Indianapolis. (AP PhotoMichael Conroy)
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David White, 53, a farmer since he was 13, examines corn that never pollinated on his farm in Geff, Ill on Monday, July 16, 2012. White says he has never experienced such extreme drought. Little rain and long lasting heat has dried up his acres, forcing him to declare this year a "total loss." (AP PhotoRobert Ray)
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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, second left, peels away the husk of a drought-ravaged ear of corn, only to find it had no kernels, as Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, right, looks on during visit to the Laird Family Farm in Waltonville, Ill. on Monday, July 16, 2012. Quinn says the state will offer an array of debt restructuring and loan programs to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought. Drought is affecting much of the Midwest, where almost a third of the nation's corn crop has been damaged by heat and drought so severe that some farmers have cut down crops midway through the growing season. (AP PhotoJim Suhr)
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Four rows of corn left for insurance adjusters to examine are all that remain of a 40-acre cornfield in Geff, Ill. that was mowed down Monday, July 16, 2012. Over ten days of triple digit temperatures with little rain in the past two months is forcing many farmers to call 2012 a total loss. (AP PhotoRobert Ray)
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Stalled corn is displayed on a farm in Geff, Ill on Monday, July 16, 2012. 53-year-old farmer David White says he has never experienced such extreme drought. Little rain and long lasting heat has dried up his acres forcing him to declare this year a "total loss." (AP PhotoRobert Ray)
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Boats sit on the dry, cracked bottom in a dry cove at Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Ind., Monday, July 16, 2012. The reservoir is down nearly 6 feet from normal levels and being lowered 1 foot every five days to provide water for Indianapolis. The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions. (AP PhotoMichael Conroy)
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The sun rises Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Pleasant Plains, Ill. Corn stalks are struggling in the heat and continuing drought that has overcome most of the country. The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions. (AP PhotoSeth Perlman)
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Burnt stalks lie on the ground among rows of corn damaged by drought in a parched field in Louisville, Ill. on Monday, July 16, 2012. Over ten days of triple digit temperatures with little rain in the past two months is forcing many farmers to call 2012 a total loss. Rows of corn sit under high temperatures, burning and crisping until the stalks eventually fall, burning into the dry soil. (AP PhotoRobert Ray)
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Jack Maloney displays a drought-damaged ear of corn on his farm in Brownsburg, Ind., Monday, July 16, 2012. With no significant rainfall since May 3 and the bleak outlook for rain, Maloney expects a total loss on his corn and soybean crop. The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions. (AP PhotoMichael Conroy)
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Corn stalks struggling from lack of rain and a heat wave covering most of the country lie flat on the ground Monday, July 16, 2012, in Farmingdale, Ill. The nation's widest drought in decades is spreading. More than half of the continental U.S. is now in some stage of drought, and most of the rest is abnormally dry. (AP PhotoSeth Perlman)
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A cow looks for something to eat as it grazes in a dry pasture southwest of Hays, Kan., in a July 6, 2012 photo. The nation's widest drought in decades is spreading. More than half of the continental U.S. is now in some stage of drought, and most of the rest is abnormally dry. (AP PhotoThe Hays Daily News, Steven Hausler)
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A dry field of corn is seen near Fremont, Neb., Monday, July 16, 2012. The drought gripping the United States is the widest since 1956, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (AP PhotoNati Harnik)
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Boats sit on the dry, cracked bottom in a dry cove at Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Ind., Monday, July 16, 2012. The reservoir is down nearly 6 feet from normal levels and being lowered 1 foot every five days to provide water for Indianapolis. (AP PhotoMichael Conroy)
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A pontoon is anchored on a mud flat as the owner could not reach their dock at Morse Reservoir in Noblesville, Ind., Monday, July 16, 2012. The reservoir is down nearly 6 feet from normal levels and being lowered 1 foot every five days to provide water for Indianapolis. The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions. (AP PhotoMichael Conroy)

Description

In its monthly drought report, the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., announced Monday that 55 percent of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought at the end of June. That's the largest percentage of affected land since December 1956, when 58 percent of the U.S. was covered by drought.

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