Like most industries, farming constantly evolves. And just like business owners factor different variables into their profitability, farmers must weigh each opportunity and consider how it would benefit our operations.
Seed choice always plays a major factor in my decisions on the farm, but how often do we consider where the crops from those varieties end up? Demand for soy’s two processed components, protein and oil, plays the major role in the price paid per bushel.
In the past, protein drove the cost of soybeans through meal for the poultry and livestock industries. Today, oil continues to gain its share of the price paid per bushel and remains an important factor in end-use markets.
A new soybean trait now being introduced in soybean seed varieties addresses improving soybean oil and making it more desirable to our No. 1 soybean oil customer: the food industry. This trait, known as high-oleic soy, helps meet consumer needs while driving demand for U.S. soy. It addresses long-term demand for healthier edible oils and positions soy competitively with other oils.
In recent years, soybean farmers have lost considerable oil demand to competitive oils. High-oleic soybeans provide the opportunity for me and other U.S. soybean farmers to reclaim that market share and positively impact our profit potential. In fact, this oil could help us recapture 3.8 million pounds of lost soybean-oil demand. That’s the oil from approximately 341 million bushels of soybeans.
We must have end-use markets, but, as farmers, we also need our soybeans to perform so we have something to sell. The varieties featuring this trait should not lower your expectations in the field. Seed companies plan to offer the high-oleic trait in soybean varieties that span several maturity groups and offer a range of agronomic packages.
The high-oleic trait followed an extensive research timeline before commercialization. As a farmer who grew high-oleic soybean varieties this past season, I saw that research pay off firsthand. The high-oleic soybeans performed right at my farm’s average, a victory for such a new trait.
As this trait becomes available in your area and with your seed brand, I encourage you to take the challenge and help meet our customers’ demands. We all need to step up and help change the game for U.S. soybean production.
EDITOR’S NOTE — John Motter is a soybean farmer from Jenera, Ohio, and serves as a director for the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff.