The U.S. corn belt, centered on Illinois, suffered extreme drought conditions during the 2005 growing season (Figure l).The April–September rainfall ranked 10th lowest of the past 113 years (see Throughout Illinois, counties were declared agricultural disaster areas and corn yields were predicted to be 30 percent less than the record year of 2004, which had the highest corn yields in the last 50 years [Christian Science Monitor, 2005].

However, the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service estimated the overall corn yield was 145 bushels per acre, or just seven percent below the previous five-year average, with “many farmers…surprised by the better than expected yields after the drought conditions” (see and 1005.pdf).This better-than-expected yield has been attributed to advancements in seed genetics, equipment, and water-management practices [Barrionuevo and Bradsher, 2005].