High-Oleic Beans Spawn Healthy Oil for Booming Market

Looking to glean some extra money from soybeans by segregating them? Think high-oleic soybeans. 

Commodity soybean oil works great as a cooking oil. Yet to create stability (lasting power), it has to be hydrogenated. Unfortunately, the process creates trans fats that are linked to heightened coronary heart disease risk. In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved to label foods containing trans fats. This morphed into an FDA ban on artificial trans fats in food products by 2018.

Many markets still exist for commodity soybeans. The FDA move, though, enabled palm oil and high-oleic canola oil to slice soybean oil’s share of the cooking oil market.
Enter oil from high-oleic soybeans. it has no trans fats and less saturated fat than many other oils. The oil’s oleic content of over 75% is akin to the darling of dieticians: olive oil. The oil also has excellent cooking stability.

The United Soybean Board (USB) estimates farmers planted around 250,000 acres of high-oleic soybeans in 2015 in nine Eastern Corn Belt states.

This level will quickly step up in other states. USB has set a target of 18 million acres of soybeans with relative maturity ranges of varieties between 1 and 5 (25% of current soy acres) by 2023.

Monsanto calls its high-oleic soybeans Vistive Gold, while Plenish is the name of DuPont Pioneer’s high-oleic varieties.

Premiums so far have ranged between 40¢ and 80¢ per bushel. The premium helps compensate farmers for segregating the high-oleic soybeans from commodity soybeans.

“You have to keep Vistive Gold soybeans separate from commodity soybeans, just as you separate No. 2 yellow corns,” says Sarah Vacek, Monsanto soybean quality traits product manager.

Vince Herman, Edgerton, Ohio, first grew low-linoleic soybeans (the precursor of high-oleic soybeans) before moving on to growing Plenish soybeans.  This year, he garnered a 50¢ per bushel premium for them. He spends about half a day cleaning his combine after harvesting commodity soybeans.  Otherwise, management is the same.

High-oleic soybeans are still prone to the same weather quirks as commodity soybeans. In 2015, Herman’s Plenish soybean yields ran 58 bushels per acre; commodity soybean yields ran into the high 60s.

However, he says this had everything to do with planting date and nothing to do with the yield potential of Plenish soybeans. Due to rampant rainfall, he planted the Plenish soybeans after commodity soybeans. “We would be just about ready to go and then it would start raining again,” he says.

Use the same selection criteria for high-oleic soybeans as you do with conventional soybeans for yield potential and appropriate defensive characteristics.

“The low-lin varieties were good-yielding products, but they didn’t have much in defensive characteristics when they were introduced,” says Steve Schnebly, DuPont Pioneer senior research manager. “All our (high-oleic) products now are strong in defensive trait packages.”

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