Market News
U.S. Soy Quality Down Slightly

The oil and protein contents of this year’s U.S. soybean crop are down slightly from 2005, but oil content should still be slightly above average, according to an annual crop quality survey prepared for the United Soybean Board and the United States Soybean Export Council.
According to the survey, the average oil content in U.S. soybeans this year was 19.17%, compared with 19.41% last year and a 20-year average of 18.67%. Oil content last year was the highest recorded in the 20 years the survey has been done.

The average protein content of the 2006 crop was pegged at 34.51%, down from 34.92% in last year’s crop and below the 20-year average of 35.34%. This year’s protein content is the lowest reported in the 20 years the survey has been done.

The higher-than-average oil content should help satisfy rapidly growing demand, especially from the bio-diesel industry, while the lower protein content will work to limit a possible overproduction of meal by processors crushing soybeans for oil.

A region-by-region quality analysis indicated that the western Corn Belt states produced a crop with a very similar protein and oil profile to the 2005 crop, while eastern Corn Belt states produced seed with lower protein and oil concentrations than last year.

The Southern regions tended to produce soybean crops with lower protein and slightly higher oil concentrations than were produced in 2005, say the authors of the report, University of Minnesota agronomists Seth Naeve and James Orr.

The Southeast region of the U.S. produced soybeans with the highest oil content, at 20.1%. Areas west of the Mississippi River, which produced the most soybeans this year, reported oil content of 19.1%.

The report’s authors say the oil content in soybeans could shift in coming years due to the increased use of seeds that produce soybeans that are naturally low in linolenic fatty acids. This new variety of soybeans can be used to eliminate unhealthy trans fats from foods.

About 750,000 acres of low linolenic soybeans were grown this year, which is equivalent to only about 1% of total U.S. production, but acreage devoted to these “low-lin” soybeans is expected to triple in 2007, the report says.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, The Corn And Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.