Bankruptcy court officials predict the drought will force hundreds of Midwestern farmers who might otherwise have survived financially to abandon their fields after the coming harvest.

After a sharp drop in bankruptcy cases in the first half of 1988, courts throughout the Farm Belt expect a surge in bankruptcy petition filings in the next six months, even with help from the huge federal drought assistance bill, according to officials in Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin."The figures looked so promising, but with what's happened this summer we're not going to bump along with this low figure," said Ann Manley, chief clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Madison.