Over the next three months, the prices of corn and soybeans have two major objectives. First, prices must allocate remaining old crop supplies to maintain at least pipeline stocks by the end of the current marketing year. Second, prices must direct spring planting decisions, said Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist.

“For soybeans, the USDA now projects that the combined total of domestic crush and exports during the current marketing year will reach 3.245 billion bushels. That is only 8 million bushels, or 0.25 percent, less than the total of last year,” he said.

At the projected level of use, year-ending stocks would total only 140 million bushels, or 4.2 percent of total use that includes seed, feed, and residual uses. Year-ending stocks cannot be reduced much below 140 million bushels and still maintain pipeline supplies so total use cannot exceed current projections by a substantial amount, he said.

During the first quarter of the current marketing year, soybean crush and exports totaled 1.063 billion bushels, 82 million (8.4 percent) more than during the first quarter last year. Use during the remainder of the year then will be limited to about 2.182 billion bushels, which is 90 million bushels (4 percent) less than use during the same period last year.