The western leg of the 2011 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour found corn yields and ear populations down from averages measured in 2010.

The average yield for Nebraska corn was pegged at 153.7 bushels an acre, a 3% decline from 2010's 158.29. The calculation is consistent with the three-year average, but it comes at a time when the industry needs higher production in the western Midwest to offset declines in the eastern Midwest, Chip Flory, the Pro Farmer Newsletter editor and director of the western leg of the tour, told assembled guests.

"A decline in the amount of ears reported in fields was a major factor in the decrease in yield projections," he said.

The average ear count in a 60-foot row was 83.01 down 2% from last-year's tour average of 84.67.

The crop suffered some emergence issues that led to a number of corn stalks failing to produce ears in many fields, Flory said. A farmer attending the meeting said the issue of earless corn stalks may be a result of variability in soil temperatures during planting, with the mercury falling below desired levels after seeds were planted.

The average soybean pod count in a three-foot by three-foot square collected from the six Nebraska cropping districts sampled Monday and Tuesday was 1,286.48, down 1.5%, from last year. The Pro Farmer Midwest crop tour doesn't estimate soybean yields.

Nebraska's soybean crop has a lot of potential, and will finish well if it gets timely rain, said Terry Johnston, tour consultant for the western leg of the tour.

The eastern leg of the Pro Farmer tour began Monday in Columbus, Ohio.

The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour projected Indiana's corn yield at 143.1 bushels an acre, below the 167.1 bushels an acre last year and the three-year average of 162.7 bushels.

The tour projected Indiana will have an average of 1,137.6 soybean pods per three-foot by three-foot square. Last year's tour estimate was 1,238.6 soybean pods, while the three-year average is 1,244.1 pods.

"We got into crops that were stressed," said Brian Grete, senior market analyst for Pro Farmer.

Grain users and traders are paying close attention to the forecasts because supplies of corn and soybeans are estimated to be historically low. Strong global demand for the crops, particularly from China, has drained inventories and pushed prices to lofty levels.

Hot, dry weather in July hurt crops across the Midwest. The weather was especially harmful for the corn crop, as it was in a key period of development.

The scouts in Indiana on Tuesday departed Fishers, Ind. on Tuesday morning and met up in Bloomington, Ill., on Tuesday night to compare results.

The western leg of the Pro Farmer crop tours treks across western Iowa corn and soybean fields Wednesday, with an evening wrap-up session in Spencer, Iowa, while the eastern leg moves on to Iowa City Iowa. Both legs of the tour will converge in Austin, Minn., on Thursday.