The results of the 2006 soybean crop quality survey are in and show an increase in overall acreage and production with positive oil and protein levels.

The annual survey is funded by the checkoff and aids international soybean customers in their decision-making process regarding purchases of U.S. soybeans. Oil and protein testing was conducted at the University of Minnesota led by Seth Naeve and James Orf.

Estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that a record 74.5 million acres of soybeans were planted in 2006, a 4.6 percent increase over 2005. USDA also estimates yields to be nearly equal to the 2005 crop despite drought conditions that limited yields in Western and Mid-South states. Therefore, a record breaking crop is expected.

Estimates indicate the 2006 crop at over 3 billion bushels, an increase of more than 4 percent over 2005.

Results indicate that in 2006 U.S. soybeans contained an average oil level of 19.2 percent and an average protein level of 34.5 percent. While this is slightly lower than last year’s averages, these levels indicate that soybean quality is maintaining its high quality. This was determined in early November when 1,593 soybean samples were received from farmers in each soybean-producing state and analyzed for oil and protein concentration using near-infrared spectroscopy, commonly referred to as NIR testing.

“The increased soybean acreage and good yields along with maintaining good quality will benefit all soybean farmers,” says Chuck Myers, Domestic Marketing chair of the United Soybean Board (USB), and a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb.

“The good quality and record crop mean we’ll have even more of the soybeans our customers around the world demand, and that will help us stay the No. 1 exporter of soybeans.”

Bob Kirchner, USB director and team lead for the checkoff’s Select Yield and Quality Initiative, and a soybean farmer from Brewster, Minn., explains that the soybean checkoff initiative focuses on providing soybean farmers with various informational tools to help select high-yielding, high-oil-and-protein soybean varieties.

The Web site www.worldsbestbeans.com houses important information regarding soybean variety selection to meet customer demands for protein and oil from around the world.

In addition, the software program Soybean Variety Selector is available to download or order for free, and provides data on yields and oil and protein of various soybean varieties. Farmers are encouraged to use these tools to aid in discussions with their seed dealers regarding soybean seed selection.

“The challenges we face in maintaining high oil and protein levels in some regions are geographical, not farming practices, and tools like the variety selector help us overcome those challenges, meet demands and thrive,” says Kirchner.

USB is made up of 64 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers.

Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply.

As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Customer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.