More soybeans will be grown across the United States this year, but that increase will be dwarfed by the amount of soybeans that will be used and exported. The result is that U.S. soybean supplies will fall to a mere 16 days of inventory, according to American Farm Bureau Federation analysts.

Based on the Agriculture Department’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report for May 2012, this year’s soybean crop is projected at 3.205 billion bushels, an increase of 149 million bushels from 2011. That boost, however, is not projected to keep up with strong demand from exports, which are expected to increase by 190 million bushels and the crush use of soybeans, which will increase by 10 million bushels.

 “When all is said and done, our ending stocks of soybeans will drop to just 145 million bushels,” says AFBF Senior Economist Todd Davis. “That equates to a 4.4% stocks-to-use ratio, which is just over a two-week supply of soybeans at the end of the year. That will tend to be a bullish factor and should keep soybeans positioned as the market driver.”

Prices will reflect soybean stocks being projected at historically low levels. The 2012-2013 U.S. marketing year average prices is pegged at $13 per bushel, which would eclipse the 2012 record of $12.35 per bushel, Davis says.

 There are several factors leading to this perfect storm for soybeans, Davis says. South American soybean production continues to decline, with Argentina’s production reduced by 91.8 million bushels and Brazil’s production reduced 36.7 million bushels from April. According to Davis, as the harvest wraps up in South America, the market is now grasping a better understanding of how their drought cut into production. On the world level, ending stocks for soybeans will be the tightest they have been since the 2007-2008 marketing year, 53.24 million metric tons, or a stocks-to-use ratio of 15.5%.