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Paying Attention to Protein, Oil Could Net Higher Soybean Prices

Paying Attention to Protein, Oil Could Net Higher Soybean Prices

ISA says U.S. producers need to focus on producing quality soybeans to better compete with Brazil and Argentina.

Although Illinois soybean growers achieved record yields in 2010 and enjoyed high soybean prices, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) says growers can boost income in 2012 (or next year's crop) by focusing on yield and quality when they make their seed decisions this winter.

"Soybean farmers think yield is what's really going to put money in their pockets," says ISA director and soybean producer Tim Seifert, from Auburn. "But buyers decide which soybeans to purchase based on oil and protein levels."

Seifert adds that competing on the world market against big hitters like Brazil and Argentina requires soybeans with higher levels of oil and protein. "When the world's looking to buy soybeans—especially for livestock purposes—they're looking for high components," he says.

Growing high-component soybeans results in better soybean prices for producers because high-quality soybeans meet customer requirements, says Chris Schroeder of Centrec Consulting.

"Processors pay for the protein and oil they will get from soybeans," says Schroeder. "Beans with a high Estimated Processed Value (EPV), the combined value of the oil, meal and hulls, are worth more to a processor than beans with lower component levels."

If growers increase the oil and protein levels in their beans, says Schroeder, processors will start to pay more for them, and will also begin to demand more Illinois soybeans. "It's simple economics," he says. "Increased demand equals higher prices. So not only will soybean growers eventually get paid more for the quality of their beans, they'll also start to experience an additional price bump due to increased demand."

The good news, Seifert adds, is that soybean farmers don't have to sacrifice yield for quality. "Many existing soybean varieties produce both the yields growers need and the quality processors expect," he says. "Ask your seed dealer specifically for varieties delivering high quality, optimally striving to achieve a general target of 35% protein and 19% oil, in addition to high yields."

The Soybean Quality Toolbox at and data from the Varietal Information Program for Soybeans (VIPS) at  can help producers identify high-quality soybean varieties in their areas.

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