Soybean prices may dip this winter on the heels of a large harvest, but chances are demand in the export market will push prices higher through 1998.

Domestic and export soybean demand should be strong through 1998. Domestic factors include a growing swine herd, a steady increase in poultry production and perceptions that weaker palm oil supplies from Indonesia may increase the crush of U.S. soybeans for oil production.

USDA’s fall estimates foresaw 69.8 million acres of soybeans in 1997, up from 63.4 million acres in 1996. As more acres come out of the Conservation Reserve Program, soybean acres in 1998 and beyond could rise.

“Soybeans are the most attractive first-crop for acres coming out of CRP,” says Gary Adams, crop analyst at the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.

One unknown in the equation is how good will yields be in northern states where limited amounts of soybeans have been grown.

“We don’t have a good history from those areas,” Adams says. There’s always a question of whether soybeans can mature before frost sets in.

Keep a close eye on soybean prices through the spring to see just how strong the demand, and prices, for soybean meal may get this summer.