Since Oct. 12, November 2011 soybean futures have traded in a range of about 75 cents, with a high of $12.76. That contract is now about $2.70 below the late August high, he said.

“Prices have been pressured by the slow pace of domestic crush, generally favorable weather conditions in South America, and a modest pace of exports,” he said.

The USDA forecasts that exports this year will be 125 million less than the record of last year. The pace of exports and export sales are slow compared to the torrid pace of a year ago, he said.

“Last year, two-thirds of U.S. exports for the entire year had been sold by late October, as China was a large buyer early in the year. Over 40 percent of the total marketing-year exports were shipped in the first quarter of the year and only 7 percent in the last quarter of the year,” he said.

Although trailing last year’s pace, export commitments as of Oct. 20 accounted for nearly half of the USDA’s projected exports for the year. That compares to the average of only 42 percent for the five years from 2005/06 through 2009/10, he noted.

Since Oct. 13, December 2011 wheat futures at Chicago have traded in a range of about 45 cents, with a high of $6.53. That contract is now about $1.80 below the late August high. Prices have been pressured by large production in the rest of the world, forecasts of much smaller exports, and prospects of abundant year-end stocks, he said.

“The USDA projects 2011/12 marketing-year exports at 975 million bushels, 314 million less than exported last year. Exports during the first quarter of the year (June through August) were 30 million bushels larger than those of a year earlier,” he said.

The USDA projection then implies that exports during the last three quarters will be 344 million bushels (33.6 percent) less than those of a year ago. As of Oct. 27, cumulative export inspections were only 10.5 million bushels less than the total of a year ago. Outstanding sales as of Oct. 20 stood at only 166 million bushels, 109 million less than sales of a year earlier.

“Exports are clearly slowing in the face of large foreign crops,” he said.

Crop prices received some brief support from the aversion of a financial meltdown in Europe, but concerns about global economic conditions continue. The USDA’s Crop Production report on Nov. 9 will provide updated forecasts of the size of the U.S. corn and soybean crops. Unless those forecasts are lower than expected, crop prices may drift back to the lows established in early October, he said.