With the record soybean harvest well under way in South America, traders of soy complex futures anticipated price weakness ahead, despite last week’s contrary market action.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Feb. 9 projected world soybean production in 2009-10, which would include the current South American harvest, at a record 255.02 million tonnes. The forecast would have soybean production easily eclipsing by 8% the previous record world outturn of 237.12 million tonnes harvested in 2006-07. World soybean production in 2008-09 was 210.86 million tonnes.

Each of the three major soybean producers — the United States, Brazil and Argentina — harvested or was projected to harvest a record large crop. The United States harvested a record 91.47 million tonnes of soybeans this past fall, which was up 10.72 million tonnes, or 13%, from 80.75 million tonnes in 2008 and exceeded the previous record outturn of 87 million tonnes in 2006 by 5%.

The U.S.D.A. projected Brazil’s soybean crop at a record 66 million tonnes, up 9 million tonnes, or 16%, from 57 million tonnes in 2008-09 and up 5 million tonnes, or 8%, from the nation’s previous record outturn of 61 million tonnes in 2007-08. Argentina’s farmers were forecast to harvest a record 53 million tonnes of soybeans this year, which would be up 21 million tonnes, or 66%, from the drought-reduced 2008-09 outturn and would be up 4.2 million tonnes, or 9%, from the previous record crop of 48.8 million tonnes harvested in 2006-07. Other nations forecast to harvest record soybean crops this year included Uruguay and Paraguay. In contrast, China, the world’s largest soybean importer, harvested 14.5 million tonnes of soybeans in 2009, which was down 1 million tonnes from the year before and compared with 15.6 million tonnes as that nation’s recent 10-year average soybean production.