WEST BEND, IOWA — National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) data released Feb. 18 suggests the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s projected  1,700 million bus of soybean crush for the 2013-14 crop year may be a bit optimistic, said Karl Setzer, market analyst at MaxYield Cooperative.

January 2014 soybean crush was 156.94 million bus, down from 165.38 million bus in December 2013, NOPA said. The organization also reported January 2014 soybean meal exports at 787,900 tons, down from just over 1 million tons in December 2013. NOPA reported 1.794 billion lbs of soybean oil stocks in January, up from 1.681 billion lbs in December 2013.

Mr. Setzer said NOPA data showed a cumulative total of soybean crush for the five September-January months at 748 million bus, slightly lower than the same period a year earlier. He noted the U.S.D.A., in its February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), projected soybean crush for all of the 2013-14 crop year at 1,700 million bus.

He admitted it was possible for soybean crush to increase in the second half of the year, but he thought it was unlikely the total would be as high as 950 million bus for the seven months from February through August.

Mr. Setzer added that January 2014 inventories of soybean oil — about 1.8 billion lbs — were significantly less than in January 2013, when NOPA reported stocks at about 2.8 billion lbs. Soybean oil export demand has continued strong recently and futures prices have been on a steep upward trajectory in February after moving sideways to lower in January.

Mr. Setzer said it was possible the soybean meal futures market may receive a jolt if brokers moving distillers dried grains (DDGs) to China to fill previous orders of as much as 200,000 tonnes decide to pull those orders on the assumption China will continue to reject supplies they view as tainted with unapproved bioengineered traits.

“The whole number of orders could get washed out at once,” Mr. Setzer asserted, which he said would have an impact on the soybean meal, which competes with DDGs as an animal feed.

NOPA released its January crush data Feb. 18 with information from its 13 members, which represents about 95% of total U.S. crushing capacity.