5 benefits that highlight value of high oleic to farmers
In nine states, farmers are reporting competitive yield from their high oleic crop this harvest. Thanks to continued commitment from the soy checkoff, even more farmers are expected to see high oleic’s strong performance next year.
Investment from the soy checkoff helps expand high oleic varieties to new areas each year. Farmers in Iowa and Nebraska are excited for opportunities coming their way with the crop, which carries a processor-paid premium on top of competitive yield.
High oleic soybeans produce oil developed to meet food customer demand. It’s exactly what restaurant chains and commercial kitchens are looking for – an oil that’s stable for frying and baking without adding trans fats.
In 2015, farmers planted high oleic on more than 250,000 acres. It will take a lot more than that to meet demand. In fact, the soybean industry has set a goal of 18 million acres planted in high oleic soybean varieties by 2023. To find the next generation of soybean farmers who help meet that demand, here are five benefits that show farmers how high oleic soybeans can fit into their operations and bolster their profitability, too.
1. Profitability is key
Two years ago, Bill Beam decided to “test the waters” on his Pennsylvania farm with 20 acres of high oleic soybeans. The premium grabbed his attention, but he wanted to make sure they performed.
“Every aspect lived up to what was expected,” he says. “Everything went smoothly, so this year, we’re growing 300 acres of high oleic soybeans. Next year, it will be even more.”
While the premium was a driving factor in Beam’s decision to first give high oleic soybeans a try, it’s the ease of growing them that’s added to his overall profitability and keeps him coming back.
“When it comes to production, I don’t see a difference,” he says. “We plant them the same, we fertilize them the same, we spray them the same. The only difference is I get a premium when I deliver them.
2. No management change needed
Herb Miller, a checkoff farmer-leader from Michigan, appreciates that high oleic soybeans allow him to grow a premium soybean – without having to adjust his basic practices or his approach to weed management. High oleic soybeans come stacked with glyphosate-tolerant traits to allow you to manage your weeds.
“I can use a GMO product and still receive a premium,” he says. “They entail the exact same process as our other beans, which makes for an easy transition to high oleic. The only difference occurs in where they’re delivered at harvest, and I am fortunate to have processors and elevators nearby.”
He says growing soybeans that meet customer needs is what will set American farmers apart. “We need to grow what our customer asks us for,” Miller says. “High oleic soybeans give us a new demand with our supply – plus a premium.”
3. Easy delivery options
“I choose to plant high oleic because the delivery point is close,” says Steve Moore, a checkoff farmer-leader from Maryland. “A local elevator opened up just to accept high oleic soybeans, decreasing my transportation costs for these soybeans.”
With the premium that Moore already receives for high oleic, the added benefit of a local delivery option made the profit potential even more attractive.
“I actually have to go farther to deliver my commodity soybeans than I do the high oleic,” he says. “Especially with today’s prices, every mile makes a difference.”
And because of the high demand, Moore never has to wait to make deliveries.
“My local crusher wants all the high oleic soy it can get,” he says. “The market potential is impressive.
4. Focus on demand
Mike Beard devoted a portion of his soybean acres to high oleic varieties because he’s excited about growing demand for the oil.
“More uses for our oil means a more valuable market for our soybeans,” says Beard, a soy checkoff farmer-leader from Frankfort, Indiana. “We have the opportunity to gain back some of the 4 billion pounds of oil demand that we lost to alternative oil sources when the government required trans-fat labeling.”
The same features that make high oleic a good choice for restaurants – heat tolerance and stability – make it attractive for industrial applications, too. The soy checkoff supports research into these new uses for high oleic soybean oil.
“There are high expectations for high oleic in the industrial market,” Beard says. “High oleic soybean oil can replace petroleum in lubricants and synthetic motor oil. That could be quite a market for high oleic.”
5. Full conversion offers more value
“On my farm, high oleic soybeans have proven to be hearty – they emerge well, we can plant them deeper and they have always been at the top end of my yield map, which is a testament to the breeding that goes into these beans,” says John Motter, who has grown high oleic soybeans since they first became available in Ohio five years ago.
He says high oleic is a direct response to the needs of U.S. soy’s biggest oil customer, the food industry. Food companies use the oil from high oleic varieties as an alternative to partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats.
“It’s what the end user wants,” Motter says. “There is so much demand for a better cooking oil, and if we don’t grow a bean that’s best-suited for this major partner, we risk our customers turning to another oil.”
Since Motter’s soybean acres are all high oleic, he avoids the added costs of managing a segregated supply. Even for farmers who also grow commodity varieties, he says they’re paid well for their stewardship.
“It’s a reward for doing the right thing by providing for our customers.”