By Joanna Levin

SOYABEAN farmers in the United States are blessed with ideal growing conditions for their 1998 crop but the favourable weather driving prices ever lower.

The outlook for crop development is very healthy, according to producers and traders.

This seasons bean crop is so well advanced that only a bout of very hot and dry weather during the pollination stage could cut this years yield.

Some industry observers are now forecasting a record harvest of 3 billion bushels, which many fear could drive returns below $5/bushel later this year.

The market has already suffered a precipitous fall after hitting over 660¢ in early July.

On the futures market, worries over oversupply and weakness in other grains are also pressuring prices.

The August futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade settled on Tuesday (21 July) at 618.75¢/bushel, down 7¢ from Monday and down from 631.5¢/bushel last week.

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