One route of the annual Pro Farmer crop tour on Thursday saw a corn crop suffering from dry conditions.

Scouts on the route of the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour estimated an average corn yield of 179.6 bushels an acre after surveying five fields in a district in Minnesota that included Jackson and Martin counties. Last year, the tour estimated an average yield of 184.79 bushels an acre for the same district.

"The corn crop won't get any better, but it could get worse if it continues to miss out on rain," said Terry Johnston, consultant for the west leg of the tour.

"There are a lot of ears in the fields, but the dry conditions will reduce the size of kernels, making it tough to build yield," said Chip Flory, head of the tour.

The scouts estimated an average of 1,291 soybean pods per three-foot-by-three-foot square in the district. That was up slightly from the tour's 2010 average of 1,209 soybean pods for the district.

"One observation so far on the one route is we are finding a lot of pods that only have two beans in the pods versus three and that will lower yields, said Flory.

Scouts on another route in southwest Minnesota had corn averaging 185 bushels an acre based on six samples.

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.

Scouts from the eastern and western groups will come together in Austin, Minn. on Thursday.

Pro Farmer, an agricultural advisory firm, is slated to issue corn- and soybean-crop estimates Friday based partly on results from the tours.