Last week’s annual Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour provided a detailed analysis on the likely outcome for 2012’s U.S. corn and soybean harvest. Given the drought and record-high corn and soybean futures prices, the world grain markets are paying extra close attention to the tour.

“Clearly, 2012 is shaping up to be an enormously painful year for most Midwest growers,” reports Chip Flory, Pro Farmer editor and founder of the crop tour. “We’re getting wild variations in reports from our members—everything from an ‘okay crop’ to ‘corn only 2-feet tall’ to ‘field’s a total loss–plowed under.’ The task of Crop Tour will be to peg numbers to these conditions.”

The tour deploys a team of around 200 growers, industry experts and media reporters who walk around some 2,000 fields in seven Midwestern states followed by a summary of the tour’s findings on the last evening, in this case, in Owatonna, Minn. Corn and soybean crop production estimates from the tour are released and the numbers will be heavily scrutinized by grain traders worldwide. Major agricultural companies, including Potash Corp., Monsanto, Agrium, Syngenta, Archer Daniels Midland and John Deere, will be watching the tour’s results and production estimates.

Predictions for U.S. corn and soybeans yields have been all over the board this year, as the extreme drought has enveloped nearly the entire U.S. Corn Belt. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimated U.S. corn yields at 123.4 bushels per acre and soybeans at 36.1 bushels per acre. Those estimates are 15% to 20% below what would have been yielded during a year with normal precipitation and temperatures in the U.S. Corn Belt.