The U.S. soybean industry exports more than half of its annual production. Without these exports – valued most recently at $16 billion – fewer profit opportunities would exist for U.S. soybean farmers. To help ensure these export markets, it’s important to give international customers what they demand.
“International purchasers ask for a ‘preview’ of the U.S. soybean crop before they start purchasing new-crop soybeans each year,” says Seth Naeve, University of Minnesota Extension soybean agronomist. “Buyers want general information about the overall U.S. crop and how it will compare with soybeans from other countries.”
U.S. soybean farmers can help demonstrate the quality of U.S. soy by sending in a sample of their new crop soybeans. About 10,000 soybean farmers will receive kits by mail. Others can request a sample kit directly by contacting Naeve at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 612-625-5772. In exchange for a sample, farmers will receive a free analysis of the protein and oil content of the new-crop soybeans they submit.
“Soybean farmers can use this information to evaluate their choices of varieties and their production practices,” says Naeve. “The easiest way for farmers to improve the quality of their own soybean crop is to choose high-yielding varieties that also possess above-average protein and oil concentrations.”
Value of protein and oil
The soybean checkoff has supported the annual U.S. Soybean Quality Survey since 1986. Coordinated by the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the checkoff’s primary contractor hired to increase U.S. soy sales, the survey measures protein, oil, seed size and foreign material in the most commonly grown soybeans produced in the U.S. Researchers analyze these values to provide U.S., region and state quality averages. In addition, they provide detailed maps showing how soybean quality varies within the U.S. and how this variation differs from year to year.
The levels of protein and oil in U.S. soybeans determine how much soybean meal can be processed and how much soybean oil can be extracted from a bushel of U.S. soybeans.
“Protein and oil represent the two valuable components of the soybean,” says Naeve. “The concentrations of these constituents are directly related to the value to soybean crushers.”
Each soybean sample kit comes with a heavyweight zip-top bag. It allows soybean farmers to take up to a 1-lb. sample from a single soybean variety on their farm. The kit also contains instructions and a postage-paid return envelope. Farmers should simply insert the zip top bag containing new-crop soybeans in the envelope and can drop it into any mailbox.
Samples received by Oct. 23 will serve as the basis for the 2010 U.S. Soybean Crop Quality report and Quality Conferences presented in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. Samples received after Oct. 23 will be included in the final report completed by Jan. 1, 2011.