By mid-July, more than 2,200 heat records for the month had been broken while another 787 were tied, according to the U.S. National Climate Data Center.
The accompanying lack of rainfall has placed about 55 percent of the country in at least moderate, short-term drought at a time corn plants should be pollinating.
The last time the country experienced a drought this severe was during the latter half of 1956.
“We're moving from a crisis to a horror story,” Purdue University agronomist Tony Vyn told Reuters. “I see an increasing number of fields that will produce zero grain.”
Ranchers in Arkansas and other states were being forced to haul water for cattle because ponds have dried up and wells were unable to keep up with demand.
A massive selloff of cattle was underway across the Midwest due to the bleak rainfall outlook.
But meteorologists suggest that some rain could bring relief to parts of the region during the closing days of July.
Photo: Christina Reed - USDA