DEVASTATIONPhotos of the Midwest DroughtKevin Fallon07.18.12DEVASTATIONPhotos of the Midwest DroughtCrops ruined. No rain in sight. The most widespread drought in decades has 80 percent of the U.S. affected. A look at hard-hit crops and water supplies in Indiana and Kentucky.Kevin Fallon07.18.12 1:00 AM ETSeth Perlman / AP Photo A devastating drought gripping the Midwest and nearly 80 percent of the country is proving catastrophic for America’s agriculture industry, according to a report released Monday by the National Drought Mitigation Center. It’s the most widespread drought since 1956, and experts say it rivals the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Natural disasters have been declared in more than 1,000 counties in 26 states, and weather-related crop losses could hit a record. As temperatures continue to soar, here’s a look at how the drought is ravaging the land, crop yields, and farmers’ livelihoods across the country. Scott Olson / Getty ImagesAll Dried UpIllinois farmer Marion Kujawa dejectedly gazes over a pond he uses to water his cattle. He’s been digging the pond deeper and deeper as the drought progressed, until the pond finally dried up. Illinois has been hit particularly hard, with the state’s farm bureau predicting the sixth-driest year on record. Daniel Acker, Bloomberg / Getty ImagesNothing LeftOnly a few test rows remain in an empty Illinois corn field that was cleared after drought conditions and extreme temperatures irreversibly damaged the crop. The few standing rows were left in the field so that insurance adjusters can determine losses. Last year, crop insurers paid out a record $1 billion in claims for weather-related crop losses, a total that’s expected to be surpassed this year. Robert Ray / AP PhotoA ‘Total Loss’David White, a 53-year-old farmer from Illinois, declared this year a “total loss,” after the penetrating heat and lack of rain ruined his entire crop. When the heat exceeds temperatures of 90 degrees for an extended period during the crucial pollination period, “the corn essentially bakes,” says David Miskus, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center. “The ears won’t fill.” Charles Bertram, Lexington Herald-Leader / Getty ImagesBarren GreensDead, browning grass encroaches on the few remaining greens at the Meadowbrook Golf Course in Lexington, Ky. On Friday, the state’s environmental agency declared a water-shortage watch for 27 of its 120 counties. A U.S. Drought Monitor report to be released Thursday says there are no major storms forecast to bring relief to the Midwest in the coming days, meaning there is no end to the dire conditions in sight. Daniel Acker, Bloomberg / Getty ImagesBeachedBoats are rendered useless as they sit at the bottom of a dried-up reservoir in Cicero, Ind. The reservoir is down nearly six feet from its normal water level, and is being lowered at a rate of one foot every five days as it continues to provide water for Indianapolis without replenishment. Michael Conroy / AP PhotoDepletedIndiana’s Morse Reservoir is desolate as far as the eye can see. On Monday, Indianapolis tied its record for its longest dry spell in more than 100 years, suffering through 45 days of less than a tenth of an inch of rain. As water sources dry up, the city is enforcing strict conservation measures, citing violators who fail to abide by guidelines to limit water use. Daniel Acker / LandovBleak OutlookFish skeletons litter the bottom of a dry drainage ditch in Skelton, Ind., where the decimation of crops due to the drought ruined what was supposed to be a banner year for the U.S. agriculture industry. Earlier this year, the USDA reported that farmers in the U.S. had planted 96.4 million acres, an increase of 5 percent from last year. An assessment by the group released Monday reported that only 31 percent of the national corn crop was in good condition, down from 40 percent the week before.