THE average protein and oil levels in the 2013 U.S. soybean crop ticked upward, according to the soybean checkoff-funded "Crop Quality Survey."
Average oil levels jumped 0.5 percentage points from 2012 levels to 19%, while average protein levels increased 0.4 percentage points to 34.7%.
The biggest customer for U.S. soybeans — the global animal agriculture sector — takes note of the protein content in the soybeans it uses, said Laura Foell, chair of the United Soybean Board's Meal Action Team.
"Our customers buy our soybeans for the components: protein and oil," Foell explained. "The animal agriculture sector uses protein to feed animals, and the food industry uses the majority of soybean oil for human consumption and the rest for industrial-like biodiesel. The more protein and oil we have in our soybeans, the more product we have for our end customers, and more demand could lead to a better price for our crop."
The study found less regional variation in protein and oil levels in 2013 than in previous years. These typical regional differences result from climate events and other factors outside of farmers' control.
Foell noted that farmers should talk with their seed representatives about soybean varieties that will produce higher levels of protein and oil without sacrificing yield.