"Kansas farmer Larry Kepley is almost out of hope. After drought left the veteran wheat farmer with what he called the 'worst wheat harvest' he's ever known, the odds for next year's crop are looking just as grim.
Sun-baked fields are as hard as rock, and moisture levels deep into the soil are nearly nonexistent as drought persists throughout much of the U.S. southern Plains.
'We're always saying next year it will be better, but it doesn't look very hopeful at this point,' said Kepley, who grows wheat in the far southwestern part of Kansas, one of the nation's top winter wheat states.
It is still early, much too soon, to gauge prospects for what will be the 2012 winter wheat crop. Farmers are still counting their bushels from this summer's harvest, and collecting on insurance payments for fields that failed to deliver."