The Census Bureau discontinued making estimates of the size of the domestic soybean crush after June 2011, Good said. As a result, the USDA no longer makes estimates of the size of the crush on a quarterly basis, but instead reports total domestic consumption (includes feed, seed, and residual consumption) during the quarter.

“That consumption is estimated as total disappearance during the quarter minus exports during the quarter,” Good said. “The National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) estimates the size of the domestic crush for its members on a monthly basis, and the USDA makes an estimate of the total domestic crush on an annual basis,” he said.

For the last two marketing years, the USDA’s estimate of the domestic crush for the year averaged 4.7 percent larger than the NOPA estimate. The NOPA estimate of the domestic crush in December 2012 and January 2013 was 10.4 percent larger than the crush in the previous year, continuing the pattern of a very large crush during the first quarter of the marketing year.

The estimate for February 2013 was equal to the crush in February 2012. For the quarter, the NOPA crush estimate for its members totaled 454.4 million bushels. “Assuming the total crush was 4.7 percent larger than that estimate, the quarterly crush was likely near 475.8 million bushels,” Good said.  

Feed, seed, and residual use of soybeans during the quarter equals total consumption minus exports and crush.

“The magnitude of consumption in that category is relatively small, but highly variable,” Good said.

“Using the process of estimating the quarterly domestic crush just described, the estimate of use in that category averaged 193.4 million bushels during the first half of the marketing year in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

“Use during the first quarter of the 2012-13 marketing year was estimated at 152.6 million bushels. If the pattern of the past two years is being followed this year, use during the second quarter totaled 40.8 million bushels.

“As a result, total consumption is projected at 1.0422 billion bushels, leaving March 1 stocks of 928.4 million bushels. Stocks at the level would be the smallest since March 1, 1989, following the extremely small harvest of 1988.

“If year-ending stocks cannot practically be reduced below about 125 million bushels and the USDA estimate of March 1 stocks is near the calculation presented here, consumption of U.S. soybeans during the last half of the marketing year would be limited to about 813 million bushels (assuming imports of 10 million bushels during the quarter).

“Consumption that was 17 percent larger than that of a year ago during the first half of the marketing year would have to be 33 percent smaller than that of last year during the last half of the year,” Good said.

Good concluded by saying the USDA’s estimate of March 1 stocks will provide the basis for evaluating the pace of consumption over the next few months.

“That estimate, along with the estimate of planting intentions to be released on the same day, will set the tone for soybean prices into the planting and growing season,” he said.


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