About 590,000 acres, or 5.5% of Iowa's soybean acres, were planted to specialty-trait varieties in 1999, according to a survey by Iowa State University.

The recently released results show that specialty soybean production totaled 26 million bushels that year. Specialty varieties grown by survey respondents were categorized as follows: clear hilum and tofu, organic and pesticide-free, STS, and non-GMO.

On average, specialty soybeans yielded 44 bu/acre, slightly below the average for commodity soybeans. However, the survey notes that organics and very specialized-trait soybeans pulled down the overall average.

The survey found three premium payment plans for specialty bean growers: market price plus premium, flat price per bushel and flat payment per acre. Market price plus premium was the most common plan, accounting for 60% of the specialty bean growers.

The estimated extra cost of producing specialty beans varied among producers: 18% estimated their cost at less than 5/bu, 32% estimated 5-20/bu, 23% estimated 20-30/bu and 23% estimated more than 50. Some producers reported costs of more than $1/bu to handle and store specialty beans.

A copy of the survey results is available online at www.iasoybeans.com under Soybean Utilization.