Josh Kirkpatrick didn't know what to expect from the high-oleic soybeans he and his brothers grew in 2013. But they were attracted by their promise and premium-earning opportunity.

High-oleic soybeans are in growing demand to meet the food industry's need to eliminate trans fats from oils used in some manufactured and restaurant food products. Partially hydrogenated oils, including soy, are traditionally a major source of trans fats in processed foods. Proponents of high-oleic soybean oil say it contains lower saturated fat than commodity soybean oil and many competing oils, and has greater stability and added fry and product shelf life.

Similar production practices

The agronomic management of high-oleic soybeans is not unlike commodity soybeans. Kirkpatrick says management and costs are similar. The difference is the high-oleic beans must be identity preserved (IP) through handling to meet company contract requirements and earn the value-added premium.

"We planted 380 acres of Pioneer varietyY42," says Kirkpatrick , who farms 6,500 acres of soybeans and corn with brothers John and James near Newtown, Ind. "The beans looked great all year. The plants at harvest were tall and lanky and yielded in the mid-60s, which was as good, or better, than the average from our other soybean varieties."

Russell Stevens, Hurlock, Md., also grew a Pioneer high-oleic variety in 2013. The corn and soybean farmer raises vegetables, and double-cropped the high-oleic beans with them.

"Our plants were not particularly tall, but they did set pods heavy," says Stevens. "Early yields showed about the same average as our commodity soybeans."

Sarah Vacek, Monsanto product manager for quality traits, says Asgrow Vistive Gold customers also report strong yields and agronomic performance in 2013. Three available Asgrow varieties range from mid- to late-Group III. Five Pioneer Plenish seed products for 2014 range from Group 2.6 to 3.4. Three of the five are Y Series soybeans and two are T Series. In both cases, the varieties were bred for specific regions near high-oleic soybean processors.

"We initially are focused on the western Ohio, northern Indiana and southern Michigan region. Many of the farmers in that area are familiar with growing (IP) soybeans, and the beans are processed in Zeeland, Mich," says Vacek. "We will expand regions in a couple of years."

Russ Sanders, director for Dupont Pioneer Nutrition and Industry Markets Group, says their seed products are best suited for areas East of the Mississippi River, but they are looking into western region production long-term as well. Visit http://bit.ly/1a4WfiR for the current list of processing partners and locations.