Dozens of farmers are going back to school on Wednesday morning.
"We desperately need rain," said Pat Benda, a district sales manager for eMerge based in Macomb.
That's why they're boarding a school bus at the University of Illinois Research and Demonstration Center in Monmouth.
"The more information you have as a farmer, consultant or seed industry, the better decision you can make on what to do," Benda said.
These corn field classrooms offer an insider's look at the drought. And the update doesn't look good. Extreme weather continues to deteriorate the corn crop. The latest Illinois crop report rates 89% of the corn in fair to very poor condition.
"We've got yields that are probably going to be cut in half at least," said Bruce Weidner, a certified crop adviser based in Wyanet. "Even the kernels that are on the cob, we're just not getting the depth to them."
This field day is reinforcing what many farmers are experiencing. The drought is drastically cutting into the corn and threatening this year's crop.
This sector of Warren County is in better shape than most. That's where timely rain helped corn to develop. But each day of hot, dry weather adds stress to the plants. It also cuts back on what farmers will harvest.
Craig Long, who farms 1,450 acres near Monmouth, considers himself among the lucky ones. So far, he's expecting a good corn crop.
"If we go from here until the end with no rain, it's going to be definitely reduced," Long said.
The next 10 days will be crucial for corn across the region.
"The corn that's looking really good now could quickly look not so good in the near future," said Dr. Angie Peltier, extension educator.
Outdoor lessons about a tough season that seems to be getting worse in Warren County.