04 Oct Declining Quality of U.S. Soybeans
Barely half of U.S. soybean farmers are aware that the oil and protein level in their seed directly impacts their profits. That is according to a survey done by the United Soybean Board in 2010. Increasing yields is commonly seen as the driving force to higher profits, but this may be coming at the expense of the quality of the seed being produced.
U.S. soybean oil and meal production has recently been on a slow and steady decline. If the amount of protein and oil that a processor can extract from a single seed continues to decrease, more seed will be required to produce the same levels and prices will begin to drop. Soybean publication Beyond The Bean recently reported that a farmer in Minnesota was docked for low protein in his seed. If seed content does not improve, this practice could become more common.
The decline in oil and protein levels is also hurting exports. The U.S. has been losing global market share for the last several years, and is projected to continue to do so in the near future. Countries like Brazil and Argentina are producing seed with higher oil and protein levels, making them more valuable to processors.
The good news is that the industry is aware of these developments and is taking steps to get back on top. Soybean varieties with improved traits are becoming available on an annual basis. Seed-applied technologies are continually getting better. National and local soybean associations are promoting awareness to farmers on the importance of growing for seed quality as well as yield. Producers create a more profitable and sustainable industry when maximum value can be extracted from a single seed.