High oleic beans still the big bet

Managing Editor

SMYRNA, Del. (Oct. 13, 2015) — As the soybean industry looks to further expand its reach, it continues to wager heavily on high oleic soybeans to recapture more of the food service and food manufacturing market.
The United Soybean Board has set a goal for 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans in the United States by 2023 and continues to fund research in developing better performing varieties for different parts of the country.
Now the beans are grown on Delmarva, in four states around the Great Lakes and western Iowa but as the growth continues, the USB forecasts the growing area to stretch from the East Coast to Kansas and Nebraska.
In June, the movement got another boost when the Food and Drug Administration revoked its “Generally Recognized as Safe” status for partially hydrogenated oil for health concerns related to trans fat content and issued a three-year compliance period after which “no PHOs can be added to human food unless they are otherwise approved by FDA.”
That’s an opportunity for high oleic soybean oil, industry representative said, as food companies transition to a different oil.
The oil from high oleic soybeans has less saturated fat than conventional soybean oil and no trans fats.
It also has a longer fry life in food service and several industrial uses.
“We’re growing a product that’s going to have exponential demand in the near future,” said Jonathan Snow, a Smyrna, Del., farmer who has grown high oleic soybeans for three years and is a director on the Delaware Soybean Board. “Anything you can do to add value to a product you already grow, you’re putting money in your pocket.”
In the Mid-Atlantic region, Perdue Agribusiness contracted with growers for about 45,000 acres of Pioneer’s Plenish soybeans this year, according to Scott Raubenstine, vice president of ag services at Perdue.
He said though some of those acres are in southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, most are on Delmarva.
“Our goal is to continue doubling it,” he said. “We’re just seeing more and more of the adoption here.”
Raubenstine said Perdue will continue the same 50 cents per bushel premium it has offered for PuPont Pioneer’s Plenish soybeans in past years and will accept them at the same 10 elevators as it did this year.
The 60-cent-per-bushel premium for beans stored on farm will also remain in place.
With United Soybean Board funding, DuPont Pioneer is adding two high oleic varieties in the group IV maturity group, a 4.4 and a 4.6, said account manager Chris Scuse.
Snow said he grew Monsanto’s Vistive Gold high oleic soybeans when they were offered on Delmarva years ago and started with Plenish beans on about 200 acres in 2012.
He’s increased each year to where high oleic beans are 70 percent of all his soybean acres.
“There were some questions about the agronomics and if there was a yield drag,” he said. “We’ve found over the years that the yield drag is negligible if there at all. I think it really goes on a field-by-field basis.”
Keeping the beans separate from conventional beans during harvest is another necessary practice to meet Perdue’s 72 percent oil threshold at the elevator but Snow said so far it hasn’t been a problem.
“As long as you have a process in place for your business you should be alright,” he said. “It actually has been smoother than we first anticipated.”
Snow said planting high oleic beans fits into his operation since the elevator he normally trucks soybeans to accepts high oleic varieties, and the varieties offered by Pioneer matched a lot of his agronomic needs.
“You’ve got to look at your dirt,” he said. “As you learn the bean lineup, you get a handle on where you can place what bean.”