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On the treeless, wind-swept Kansas prairie, the searing mix of sun and triple-digit heat can lead to agricultural disaster.

Some residents have taken to praying for rain and cooler temperatures in the sparsely populated western part of the state. Menlo farmer Brian Baalman can testify to that.

“Everybody is just sick of it. They just wish we would get a good rain,” he said. “It has become a point to pray for it at church on Sunday, for sure.”

Temperatures in the area have hovered around 111 degrees or higher for the past four days. Hill City, about 50 miles from Menlo, reached 115 Tuesday and Wednesday - earning it the distinction of the nation’s hottest spot, according to the National Weather Service.

Much of the fortunes in the Menlo area are tied to corn, a crop used not only for food but also ethanol-blended gasoline. But day after unyielding day of blazing sun and high heat have baked the top 6 inches of soil, and plant roots can’t break through to the moister soil below.

Growing corn in these hot and windy conditions, Mr. Baalman said, is impossible.

“It is getting to look ugly, the longer this keeps going on without a drink,” he said.