KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. — February soybean crush data from the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) published March 15 both surprised and disappointed the U.S. market, contributing to one-month lows in soybean futures that extended into trade on March 18.

NOPA said soy crushings in February dropped to 136.3 million bushels, below both analyst estimates of 142.4 million and the previous month’s 158.2 million bushels.

Analysts interpreted the disappointing crush as an indication processors were having a difficult time obtaining cash-market soybeans.

Additional NOPA data reported February soybean meal exports down to 766,000 tonnes, compared to 1.117 million tonnes in January. NOPA reduced February soy oil stocks to 2.79 billion lbs, down from 2.823 billion lbs in January.

Also contributing to bearish sentiment was Allendale Inc.’s March 15 projection of record U.S. soybean plantings in 2013. The McHenry, Illinois, U.S.,-based forecasting firm said U.S. farmers will plant 78.32 million acres of soybeans. Allendale said the acreage forecast coupled with an estimate of 43.35 bushels per acre, representing a trend-line yield, would place soybean production at 3.349 billion bushels for the upcoming crop, compared with 3.015 billion bushels produced in the current crop year.

Allendale’s forecast exceeded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) baseline projections released in February that put soybean plantings at 77.5 million acres, a slight increase over the 77.2 million acres planted in the 2012 crop year.

Also contributing to weakness in soy complex futures March 18 was the USDA’s report that soybeans inspected for export during the week ended March 14 totaled 8.927 million bushels, less than half the amount expected by the trade and down from 17.765 million bushels, or 50%, a week earlier.