During day three of our crop tour, we surveyed northwest and west central Iowa as well as northeast Nebraska.

The northwest and west central crop districts of Iowa have solid yield potential. Our yield checks and rating system points to yield potential near the average of the past five years excluding last year’s drought-reduced yield. Yield potential is clearly stronger than what we observed in northeast and north central Iowa. While there are pockets of very late plantings, the crop is closer to normal maturity with most fields in both districts currently silking or within a week of silking.

Corn stands are generally even with much less variability than further east. We also found high stalk counts averaging near 30,000 per acre, the key driver behind the yield potential. This is at the high end of our historical data for the region. If not for later corn and uncertainty about ear size, yield potential would be higher.

Based on our yield checks we expect yields to range mostly from 170 to 190 bushels per acre. The high stalk/ear counts will support yields, but from here out ear size will be the determining factor. So far timely rainfall and cool temperatures have limited stress on the crop. Additional moisture is needed to support a strong finish.

In northeast Nebraska crop prospects appear very strong. Irrigated fields are in excellent condition. Dryland yield potential is also very good. Like Iowa, farmers are pushing plant populations higher even on the dryland fields. In our view the dryland corn in northeast Nebraska has excellent yield potential, however soils are dry and in need of moisture to aid grain fill.

Along with the irrigated corn, our data suggest above average yield potential for the region, and with favorable weather the rest of the season, possibly record potential. We can’t extrapolate to the state, but yield potential for the northeast district is very good.

What a change on Wednesday from Tuesday and to some extent Monday. Wednesday we observed what potentially may be among the highest yielding soybeans on the tour, or at least to date. Unlike the erratic inconsistency of the soybeans in north central and northeast Iowa, the northwest Iowa crop was a solid performer to date.

Soybeans there were of moderately good size. Some fields found the vegetative canopy approaching the point where it was filling in the rows. Otherwise, that should be occurring over the next two weeks for many of the remaining fields.

The lateness held us back from ranking 2013 among the best years, but the beans have solid potential to trend about the 50 bushel per acre benchmark. Frankly, our comments for west central Iowa could be identical to those for the northwest.

The growth was a little farther along in the west central, but not to the point to impact the expected yield. We did see some of the problems common in north central Iowa in portions of the eastern edge of this important district. Dry weather has pulled down soil moisture reserves, so that could become a yield limiting issue later in August without relief.

Our soybean evaluation for northeastern Nebraska was high. Similar to western Iowa, the crop needs a drink soon to achieve what appears to be high yields, even for dryland fields.

Our Nebraska soybean field checks matched up well with values measured in 2010 and 2011. With each of these soybean updates it is important to acknowledge that a fairly large portion of the growing season to determine the final outturn still remains ahead.