As the growing season progresses and adverse weather conditions persist over large areas, more attention is being focused on the U.S. soybean crop.

According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, the importance of the size of the U.S. crop is magnified by the small South American harvest earlier this year, which the USDA estimates to be at 4.2 billion bushels, 16 percent smaller than the record crop of 2011.

 “The USDA expects South America to maintain a large export presence, however, by sharply reducing inventories over the next year,” Good said.

“Even so, the pace of exports of U.S. soybeans remains stronger than normal for this time of year. The USDA now projects 2011-12 marketing year exports at 1.34 billion bushels, 65 million more than projected in March. With only 6 weeks left in the marketing year, exports need to total 81 million bushels, 13.2 million per week, to reach the USDA projection.”

Export inspections for the 4 weeks ended July 17 averaged16.1 million. As of July 12, the USDA reported unshipped export sales for the current year at 171.5 million bushels. Good said that it appears that exports may marginally exceed the USDA projection.

Good said the USDA projects the domestic soybean crush during the current marketing year at 1.675 billion bushels, 27 million (1.6 percent) more than crushed last year.

The Census Bureau no longer reports monthly soybean crush, but the National Oilseed Processors Association reported that its members crushed 2.1 percent more soybeans during the first 10 months of the year than during the same period last year. From February through June, the crush exceeded that of last year by 10 percent.