Irrigation has given Arkansas corn growers a distinct advantage this year.

“The U.S. corn crop conditions peaked in early June and have declined weekly since then,” Stiles said.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service said 72 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent on June 3.

“Today, that percentage is 31. That is the lowest crop rating since 1988 for this time of year.”

In Arkansas, Monday’s NASS report has 63 percent of the state’s corn crop in good or excellent condition. A full 12 percent of the crop was mature, “unprecedented in the last five years,” Stiles said.

The fact that demand is slowing is the key argument that prices may be at or near the peak.

“Currently, futures prices are trading close to the record highs seen in June 2011,” Stiles said. “Last year, corn futures nearly hit $8 and today’s high so far has been $7.97. Where we go from here will be uncharted territory.

“Some chart technicians predict the September contract still has another 50 cents to $1 per bushel of upside, but, for now, the market has to penetrate last June’s high.”

REPORT: Drought could lead to crop delivery problems

The rationale for higher prices depends on the weather for the balance of July.  August will be a critical month, but one that’s more important to the soybean market. Based on the weather outlook Wednesday, it does appear that yield estimates for the U.S. crop could decline more. Much of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota are expected to see temperatures around 100 degrees next week. Parts of Nebraska have lost the ability to irrigate due to the dry conditions.

A handful of acres were harvested last week in Jefferson County, but much of the state’s corn is waiting out a few sunny, dry days to ensure the kernels are as near to 15 percent moisture as they can be before the combines run. Farmers in Chicot County planned to try harvesting Monday or Tuesday, but the weekend rain slowed the drying.

For more information on coping with drought, visit Arkansas Drought Resources here or contact your county Extension office.