Will County is one of only four counties in Illinois not to be declared drought-disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as of Wednesday.
Jeff Squibb, a spokesnman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, said the classification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is automatically awarded before the end of the growing season if a county has surpassed eight weeks in a state of severe or extreme drought as set by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
-- as well as DuPage, Kane and Cook counties -- remain in the moderate drought category.
That said, it's likely the remaining counties will eventually be added to the list if conditions continue, Squibb said.
Up until this week, only 40 counties qualified for disaster relief. On Wednesday, another 50 were added to the list.
"We suspect all 102 counties will be on the disaster list eventually," Squibb said.
For this area, there's no expectation for any substantial rainfall until Saturday, when there's a 40 percent chance on Saturday afternoon and a 60 percent chance on Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Given that temperatures will remain in the 90s through Saturday, that rain may not have much effect.
Even if the four remaining counties are not declared disaster areas prior to harvest time, farmers can still apply for it and, based on their yields, be eligible for the federal benefits that come with it, Squibb said.
The benefit for farmers is the access it gives them to low-interest loans that will allow them to pay for seed and cover their farm and personal debts, he said. The interest rate is 2.5 percent and farm owners have eight months to apply after the disaster status is declared.
While corn and soybean crops continue to grow despite the unrelenting heat, it's expected their yields will be far smaller than during a normal growing season.
Illinois State Water Survey statistics show that rainfall in the state averaged just 12.6 inches from January to June, making the first half of 2012 the sixth-driest on record, according to a press release issued Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn's office.
In addition, every month this year has had above normal temperatures, and the statewide average of 52.8 degrees for the first six months of the year is the warmest on record, the release said.
Quinn is also urging Congress to pass an extension of the federal Farm Bill, which includes funding for disaster programs, before its August recess. The Midwest Governor’s Association sent a letter this asking that the federal government temporarily waive audits of high-dollar crop insurance claims and to develop a comprehensive plan to open up as much federal land as possible for emergency grazing and haying.
For more information on drought assistance, go to Drought.Illinois.gov.