If you're in the upper Midwest, shoot for planting soybean varieties with 19% oil and 35% protein. That's the message from the United Soybean Board (USB) and the soybean checkoff.

“We're carrying this message to all parts of the soybean industry, from farmers to seed companies and processors,” says USB Secretary Chuck Friedrich, a soybean farmer from Aurora, SD. “As a soybean farmer, I'm asking my seed dealer about top-yielding varieties that match our 19/35 goal. I encourage others to do the same.”

Efforts for this checkoff-funded initiative are focused in Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. In recent decades, these states have seen a significant increase in soybean production but, due to geographical and environmental conditions, this area traditionally produces soybeans with lower protein content.

“I can't stress enough that low protein levels are environmental and have nothing to do with northern farmers' methods,” says USB economic adviser and soybean processing expert, Richard Galloway. “However, strong-yielding varieties are available in the lower maturities that have the optimum levels of protein and oil that our customers are demanding.”

The soybean checkoff has encouraged processors to reward farmers for growing high protein and oil varieties. Minnesota and South Dakota Soy Processors, AGP, Cargill and CHS Inc. are among the processors that currently offer premiums based on protein and oil content.