Exports have emerged as a bright spot this autumn for corn and soybean growers, who are struggling with crop prices at or below break-even levels.

Demand for both U.S. corn and soybeans surged higher last spring and summer when crop problems emerged in Brazil and Argentina. That demand momentum has continued into the early fall, according to Chad Hart, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension crop market specialist.

"We are definitely off to a strong start so far in the new marketing year," Hart said last week.

Fall is typically a strong season for U.S. corn and soybean exports because South American shipments are winding down going into the southern hemisphere’s planting season, Hart noted. However, he said, U.S. export sales of both crops are running significantly ahead of the same period a year ago.

The most recent U.S. Depart­ment of Agriculture (USDA) supply/demand report pegged U.S....