Tag Archives: soybeans

Trade negotiations are officially on the horizon with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom, continuing the momentum generated by a bilateral deal with South Korea (KORUS) and a renegotiated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada, now the USMCA.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has consistently requested a negotiated solution to the trade war with China and urged that exports lost to this key market be offset through new free trade agreements. ASA is hopeful that the Administration’s formal notice to Congress that it will enter trade negotiations with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom as soon as mid-January will make a settlement with China a plausible next step, bringing an end to the devastating tariff imposed on American soybeans.

Concluding the USMCA and success with subsequent FTA negotiations with Japan, the EU and other countries would mean opportunities to potentially increase U.S. soy and livestock product exports to other promising markets, including the Philippines. ASA is encouraging the Administration to consider adding Vietnam and Indonesia to its list of potential negotiating targets. Knowing, however, that increased sales to these markets won’t offset lost U.S. export to China, ASA continues to emphasize the need to reach an agreement that rescinds the current tariffs and allows soy growers to begin to restore this vital, number one export market.

Most people recall the heat of the 2012 drought.

Jessie Alt remembers the sound.

“In 2012, when soybeans were shattering due to dry conditions, the pod can really burst open and the seed can literally spread itself out and you can hear it happening — it’s like popcorn out in the field,” said Alt, who works as a research scientist and soybean breeder for Pioneer, now under Corteva Agriscience. “It’s a stomach-turning thing to hear because you realize what’s happening out there.”

Fast forward to 2018 and the same phenomenon of shattered soybeans is plaguing many growers across the Midwest and South. But this time, it’s excessive moisture and delayed harvest that’s to blame, Alt said.

The science behind shattered pods and dropped beans is a delicate dance between genetics and environment. Alt, as well as University of Minnesota Extension agronomist Seth Naeve, helped us tease out the reasons why this phenomenon is causing so much trouble for farmers this fall.


In the long battle to free soybeans from their tendency to shatter, soybean breeders like Alt are working against the plant’s fierce drive to reproduce successfully.

“Breeders are pulling this trait out of eons of evolution,” said Naeve. “Wild soybean plants actually evolved to preferentially throw seed as far from the plant as they could — and that had to be bred out slowly over time.”

Slow is the operative word, Alt noted. Unlike diseases or insects, shattering is difficult to induce in the field, and no single gene or group of genes controls it. Untangling it from the soybean’s germplasm is not a straightforward task.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and shattering is something we work on every year,” she explained. “Shattering is a lot more like breeding for yield — you need lots of locations, different environments and replications to study it, and we continue to make nice, slow, steady progress — slower perhaps than people would like at this time.”

Yet breeders have already come a long way, Alt and Naeve noted. “Even just 10 to 20 years ago, shattering was a hugely significant issue,” Naeve said. “Now all those lines that had serious susceptibility to shattering have just been removed from the system.”


Nowadays, the biggest factor behind shattering is Mother Nature.

The soybean pod is held together by a tough seam that scientists call the pod “suture.” The pod suture is used to withstanding the normal wetting and drying that a mature soybean goes through in the fall, when the bean’s moisture can vacillate between 8% and 13% within a day, as the air temperature and humidity rise and fall.

But the longer mature soybeans sit in the field, the more wetting and drying cycles they go through, and the weaker the pod and the pod suture become, Alt said. So anything that causes a bean to stand beyond its ideal harvest time will heighten the risk of shattering.

Some of those causes are man-made — for example, some farmers plant shorter-season soybeans than their region requires in order to stagger their grain harvests, but then can’t get them out as early as they had hoped.

But most are weather-driven. In Alt’s research territory in Iowa, rains have come fast and furious since August.

“From Aug. 1 to Oct. 8 in my area in Iowa, we have seen anywhere from 3 to 16 inches above the 30-year average rainfall,” she explained. “And the majority of that came from Aug. 20 and later — right as soybeans were maturing.”

The excessive rainfalls across wide swaths of the Midwest and South this year have led many soybeans to endure far more dramatic swings in moisture content, Naeve said. “Now the bean is going from 9% to 20%, and now we’ve increased the size of the seed [with swelling].”

A few repeats of that, and the soybean pod becomes too fragile to withstand its swollen seeds, Alt said. “That pod suture just weakens and breaks open,” she said.

Some soybean seeds, especially those that sat under warm and wet conditions for many weeks, have actually sprouted within the pod, adding to the pressure against the pod suture, Naeve said.

As happened in 2012, extreme heat and dryness can also lead to abnormal shattering, Alt added. But in those cases, the pod is more brittle and more likely to launch seeds when it pops open. This year, pods have stretched open more slowly, and many seeds may hang there for a period of time before dropping.

Naeve said he observed one field shattering from a severe case of SDS, which caused the plants to mature prematurely and stand in the field too long before harvest. Other diseases, like frogeye leaf spot or SCN, can also heighten the risk of shattering by compromising the plant’s health, he added.

“Once you have stressed plants, they may not function very well and have a good, protective pod on that plant,” he explained.


Once soybean seeds drop to the ground, it’s game over. That yield is lost.

Some soybeans may still hang from the pod, but they will be at high risk for dropping during harvest or during the wait for harvest, Naeve said. Chances are good that they, too, are lost to the farmer.

Those losses can add up quickly. Kansas State crop scientists estimated that four dropped seeds per square foot of soil surface translates to a loss of one bushel per acre. (See that article here: https://webapp.agron.ksu.edu/…)

Even if the exposed soybeans do make it into the combine, many will be rotted or sprouted, which can lead to discounts at the elevator — from already depressed soybean prices. Remember that even if the sprout falls off a soybean seed, the bean is already compromised.

“That seed has already converted oils and carbs into sugars,” Naeve said. “It will cause problems from an elevator standpoint, with quality issues, and from a storage standpoint, with molding in bins.”

Naeve strongly recommends scouting before harvest to see the extent of shattering in fields. If possible, he urges farmers to segregate the worst sections of the farm or field, and resist the temptation to blend those soybeans with better ones.

“Elevators will be really quick to dock soybeans for too high of moisture or damage,” he said. “They’ve got more beans than they can take. The worst thing that can happen is they contaminate their whole crop with their worst beans. Better to take a loss on a small portion than take a loss on the whole crop.”

Rain and snow last week pushed the nation’s soybean harvest further behind the average pace and also slowed the corn harvest, USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

As of Sunday, Oct. 14, 38% of the soybean crop was harvested, up just 6 percentage points from the previous week and 15 points behind the five-year average of 53%. That’s further behind normal than the previous week when harvest lagged the average pace by just 4 percentage points.


Listen to the report here: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/futures-one-crop-progress-report-10-15-5292.html

Though the national average good-to-excellent condition rating for soybeans dropped by only 2 percentage points from 68% the previous week to 66% last week, crop conditions in some key soybean-growing states worsened last week.

The percentage of soybeans rated as very poor to poor in Iowa rose 2 percentage points from 9% the previous week to 11% last week. In North Dakota, soybeans were rated 20% very poor to poor, up 4 percentage points from the previous week. Missouri soybeans’ very-poor-to-poor rating was also up 4 percentage points from 19% the previous week to 23% last week.

The wet conditions last week also slowed the corn harvest. Nationwide, 39% of corn was harvested as of Sunday, still 4 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 35% but nearer to the average pace than the previous week when harvest was 8 percentage points ahead of normal.

Corn condition held steady nationwide last week at 68% good to excellent.

Winter wheat planting was 65% finished as of Sunday, ahead of 58% last year at the same time but slightly behind the five-year average of 67%. Winter wheat emerged, at 44%, was ahead of last year’s 35% and also ahead of the average pace of 41%.

Forty-two percent of the sorghum crop was harvested as of Sunday, behind the average pace of 48%.

Eighty-eight percent of rice was harvested as of Sunday, behind last year’s 90% but near the five-year average of 87%.

Eighty-five percent of cotton had bolls opening as of Sunday, ahead of the average of 83%. Thirty-two percent of cotton was harvested, slightly ahead of last year’s 30% and also ahead of the average pace of 25%. Nationwide, cotton condition dropped 7 percentage points from 42% good to excellent the previous week to 35% last week.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Mature 96 93 89 91
Corn Harvested 39 34 27 35
Soybeans Dropping Leaves 95 91 93 92
Soybeans Harvested 38 32 47 53
Winter Wheat Planted 65 57 58 67
Winter Wheat Emerged 44 30 35 41
Cotton Bolls Opening 85 78 81 83
Cotton Harvested 32 25 30 25
Sorghum Mature 81 73 79 82
Sorghum Harvested 42 39 39 48
Rice Harvested 88 79 90 87


National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
Corn 4 8 20 47 21 4 8 20 47 21 3 8 24 50 15
Soybeans 3 8 23 48 18 3 7 22 49 19 3 9 27 48 13
Sorghum 6 11 28 44 11 5 11 29 44 11 2 6 27 52 13
Cotton 11 20 34 29 6 6 19 33 32 10 5 8 29 43 15

With Iowa’s soybean harvest expected to total nearly 600 million bushels, the partnership between soy and pork takes on added importance as production booms and trade disputes linger.

“Iowa soybean farmers depend on domestic and global demand for pork,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Lindsay Greiner. “That’s always been true, but never more evident than right now.”

Iowa’s status as the nation’s leading pork producer depends on soybean farmers. About seventy-five percent of Iowa soybean crop is converted into soybean meal. The average pig consumes nearly 120 pounds of it — or the equivalent of 2.5 bushels of soybeans according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

“That appetite for soy is critical to the competitiveness and success of soybean farmers,” says Greiner, who grows soybeans and raises hogs near Keota, “Considering there are nearly 20 million pigs on feed at any given time in Iowa, the result is a strong demand for Iowa soybeans.”

              Dave Struthers, a soybean farmer who raises hogs near Collins, says both industries play off each other and add to Iowa’s agricultural productivity and economic success.

“I always say hakuna matata, it’s the circle of life. The beans are used as feed for the hogs, then the hogs produce the fertilizer to put back on the field,” says Struthers.

Why are soybeans and swine so BIG in Iowa?

  • Feed to fertilizer: One 4,800-head pig farm will generate enough plant food for 600 acres of a corn/soybean rotation.
  • Farming legacy: Iowa has more than 6,000 pig farms and 40,000 soybean farmers, and 94 percent of Iowa’s farms are family-owned.
  • Jobs, jobs, jobs: The two industries combined contribute $12.3 billion to Iowa’s economy and support more than 230,000 Iowa jobs.
  • Exports: Iowa is the top state for pork exports, totaling more than $1.1 billion in 2017, according to the National Pork Producers Council.

Join the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association in celebrating October Pork Month by using #Porktober18 on social media. Celebrate an entire month dedicated to celebrating the most popular meat in the world, according to the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.

“If you’re wondering how to best celebrate pork month and support Iowa farmers,” Struthers advises, “the answer is to eat more pork!”

A challenging soybean harvest is creating many questions related to storage and drying, according to Ken Hellevang, agricultural engineer with the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

Soybeans at 11% moisture have storage characteristics similar to wheat or corn at about 13.5% moisture, so 16% moisture soybeans might be expected to store similarly to about 19% moisture corn. It is important to be able to aerate the soybeans to keep them cool.

The amount of natural air drying that will occur in late October and early November is limited. The equilibrium moisture content of soybeans for air at 40°F and 70% relative humidity is about 12%. With this air condition drying should occur with soybeans above 12% moisture. However, the drying rate will be slow at typical in-bin drying airflow rates. An airflow rate of 1 cubic foot per minute per bushel (cfm/bu) is expected to dry 18% moisture soybeans in about 60 days. With an airflow rate of 1.5 cfm/bu the drying time is reduced to about 40 days. The drying time for 16% moisture soybean is slightly less. The drying time of 16% moisture soybeans is about 50 days. Adding supplemental heat to raise the air temperature by 3 to 5 degrees will permit drying the soybeans to about 11% moisture in about 40 to 45 days. Increasing the airflow rate proportionally reduces the drying time.

The moisture holding capacity of air is reduced at lower air temperatures. As average air temperatures approach 35°F, natural air drying becomes inefficient and not economical.

Soybean pods popping open
Figure 2. Extensive rainy, wet conditions in areas of Nebraska are leading to soybean pods popping open, further complicating this year’s harvest.  (Photo by Dean Stevens)

The moisture-holding capacity of air is reduced at lower air temperatures. As average air temperatures approach 35°F, natural air drying becomes inefficient and is not economical.

Adding heat would cause the beans on the bottom of the bin to be dried to a lower moisture content and it would increase drying speed only slightly. Cool the soybeans to between 20°F and 30°F for winter storage and complete drying in the spring. Hellevang recommends starting drying in the spring when outdoor temperatures are averaging about 40°F.

Increasing the airflow rate will increase the drying speed. However, the fan horsepower required to achieve the higher airflow rate becomes excessive unless the grain depth is very shallow. For a soybean depth of 22 feet, each 1,000 bushels of soybeans will require about 1.0 horsepower of fan. Achieving an airflow rate of 1.25 cfm/bu will require about 1.6 horsepower per thousand bushels and an airflow rate of 1.5 cfm/bu will need about 2.5 horsepower per thousand bushel.

The type of fan greatly affects the airflow provided per horsepower, so use a fan selection software program such as the one developed by the University of Minnesota. It is available on the NDSU Grain Drying and Storage website.

Soybeans can be dried in a high-temperature dryer, but the plenum temperature needs to be limited to minimize damage to the beans. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for maximum drying temperature. Typically the maximum drying temperature for nonfood soybeans is about 130°F. Even at that temperature, some skins and beans will be cracked.

One study found that with a dryer temperature of 130°F, 50% to 90% of the skins were cracked and 20% to 70% of the beans were cracked. Another study found that 30% of the seed coats were cracked if the drying air relative humidity was 30%. Roughly with each 20-degree increase in drying temperature, the air relative humidity is reduced to one-half. When air at 50°F and 80% relative humidity is heated to 70°F, the relative humidity drops to about 40%. Monitor the soybean seeds coming from the dryer and manage the dryer temperature based on the amount of damage occurring.


There is a risk of fire when drying soybeans. Soybean pods and other trash can accumulate in the dryer and become combustible. Clean the dryer frequently to ensure trash does not build up and to reduce the potential for debris becoming combustible. Also, assure that soybeans continue to flow in all sections of the dryer. Monitor the dryer continuously to limit fire potential.

USDA on Thursday called for record soybean production and large ending stocks in its October round of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) and Crop Production reports.

Farmers are expected to harvest 53.1 bushels per acre of soybeans, up from last month’s 52.8 bpa forecast. Overall production, at 4.69 billion bushels, is slightly lower than last month’s estimate. Both are within the range of pre-report expectations.

New-crop (2018-19) soybean ending stocks were pegged at 885 million bushels on higher beginning stocks. USDA left soybean use unchanged.

On corn, USDA estimated national average yields at 180.7 bpa with production at 14.8 billion bushels. While that’s down slightly from last month’s estimate of 181.3 bpa and 14.83 bb, respectively, it’d still be the highest yield on record and second highest level of production.

This month’s Crop Production forecast is noteworthy because it becomes statistically more accurate.

Thursday’s new U.S. ending stocks estimates were bullish for corn and neutral for soybeans and wheat, said DTN Analyst Todd Hultman. World ending stocks estimates from USDA were neutral for corn, bearish for soybeans and slightly bullish for wheat, he said.

You can access the full reports here:

— Crop Production: https://www.nass.usda.gov/…

— World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE): http://www.usda.gov/…


The U.S. soybean crop was projected at 4.69 billion bushels, down slightly from last month and lower than the pre-report average estimate. Still, soybean yield was bumped up to 53.1 bushels per acre, up 0.3 bpa from the September estimate of 52.8 bpa.

USDA lowered harvested soybean acres to 88.3 million acres, down 600,000 acres from the September projection.

Ending stocks were projected at 885 million bushels for soybeans, up 40 mb from last month’s forecast. USDA increased carryover from the 2017-18 crop by 43 mb, but dropped production by 3 mb to bump up the 2018-19 ending stocks.

Despite the export battles, USDA held pat on soybean exports for the 2018-19 crop at 2.06 billion bushels, the same as the September forecast.

The average farm-gate price for soybeans remained at a forecast of $8.60 a bushel with a wide range stretching from $7.35 to $9.85 a bushel.

Globally, USDA raised soybean carryover from the old crop by 1.91 million metric tons, which translated into boosting the ending stocks for the 2018-19 crop as well by 1.78 mmt. USDA did not change production estimates for major exporters such as Brazil (120.5 mmt) and Argentina (57 mmt).


USDA expects farmers to harvest 81.8 million acres of corn, down slightly from the agency’s previous estimate and 1% below 2017. When combined with its record national average yield projection of 180.7 bpa, production comes out at 14.78 billion bushels.

New-crop (2018-19) domestic ending stocks came in at 1.813 bb, which incorporates the 138 million extra bushels from September’s Grain Stocks report as higher beginning stocks as well as the slightly lower production estimate. USDA lowered feed and residual use by 25 mb while boosting exports by 75 million bushels.

It left the range of national average farm-gate prices unchanged at $3.00 to $4.00 per bushel.

Globally, USDA forecast 2018-19 stocks at 159.35 million metric tons, up 2.32 mmt from last month. However, it’s still less than the 198.21 mmt ending stocks forecast for 2017-18.


Ending stocks for the 2018-19 crop were forecast at 956 mb, up 21 mb from last month’s estimate of 935 million bushels.

USDA bumped up projected 2018-19 yield 0.2 bpa to 47.6 bpa. That increased production 7 million total bushels to 1.884 bb.

USDA also held wheat exports pat at 1.025 bb, but slightly lowered domestic demand 10 mb overall.

The average price was pegged at $5.10 a bushel, but USDA lowered the possible price range by 10 cents a bushel.

Globally, USDA lowered world wheat production by 2.08 mmt for 2018-19 and lowered global imports 1.34 mmt as well. With lower global production, USDA lowered the 2018-19 world wheat ending stocks by 1.11 mmt as well.

U.S. CROP PRODUCTION (Million Bushels) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep 2017-18
Corn 14,778 14,851 14,969 14,700 14,827 14,604
Soybeans 4,690 4,733 4,890 4,623 4,693 4,392
U.S. AVERAGE YIELD (Bushels Per Acre) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep 2017-18
Corn 180.7 181.8 183.0 180.6 181.3 176.6
Soybeans 53.1 53.4 55.0 52.0 52.8 49.1
U.S. HARVESTED ACRES (Million Acres) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep 2017-18
Corn 81.8 81.7 81.9 81.4 81.8 82.7
Soybeans 88.3 88.7 88.9 88.2 88.9 89.5
U.S. ENDING STOCKS (Million Bushels) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep
Corn 1,813 1,932 2,352 1,774 1,774
Soybeans 885 860 975 492 845
Wheat 956 960 1,020 895 935
WORLD ENDING STOCKS (Million metric tons) 2018-2019
Oct Avg High Low Sep
Corn 159.3 159.2 165.9 156.0 157.0
Soybeans 110.0 109.4 113.0 105.5 108.3
Wheat 260.2 261.1 263.7 259.0 261.3

 In spite of rain, the U.S. corn harvest has pushed forward, USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Tuesday, which was delayed a day due to Columbus Day.

Listen to the report here: https://post.futurimedia.com/krvnam/playlist/futures-one-crop-progress-report-10-9-5248.html

As of Sunday, Oct. 7, 34% of corn was harvested nationwide, 8 percentage points ahead of the average pace of 26%. That was further ahead of normal than the previous week when harvest was even with the of average.

The soybean harvest, on the other hand, is slowing down. As of Sunday, 32% of the crop was harvested, which is 4 percentage points below the five-year average of 36%. That compares to the previous week when harvest was slightly ahead of the average.

Meanwhile, both crops continued to reach maturity ahead of the normal pace. Ninety-three percent of corn was mature, 10 percent ahead of the average of 83%. Soybeans were 91% dropping leaves, 6 percentage points ahead of the average of 85%.

Nationwide, condition ratings for corn is now at 68% good to excellent, as opposed to the 69% good to excellent rating seen last week. Soybeans were unchanged from the previous week with a rating of 68% good to excellent.

Winter wheat planting was 57% finished last week, ahead of 46% at the same time last year and also slightly ahead of the five-year average of 54%. Winter wheat emerged, at 30%, was ahead of last year’s 23% and ahead of the average pace of 28%.

Thirty-nine percent of the sorghum crop was harvested as of Sunday, behind the average pace of 42%.

Seventy-nine percent of rice was harvested as of Sunday, behind last year’s 84% but equal to the five-year average. Seventy-eight percent of cotton had bolls opening, ahead of the average of 74%. Twenty-five percent of cotton was harvested, slightly ahead of last year’s 24% and also ahead of the average pace of 18%.

To view weekly crop progress reports issued by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states, visit http://www.nass.usda.gov. Look for the U.S. map in the “Find Data and Reports by” section and choose the state you wish to view in the drop-down menu. Then look for that state’s “Crop Progress & Condition” report.

National Crop Progress Summary
This Last Last 5-Year
Week Week Year Avg.
Corn Mature 93 86 80 83
Corn Harvested 34 26 21 26
Soybeans Dropping Leaves 91 83 88 85
Soybeans Harvested 32 23 34 36
Winter Wheat Planted 57 43 46 54
Winter Wheat Emerged 30 14 23 28
Cotton Bolls Opening 78 67 71 74
Cotton Harvested 25 19 24 18
Sorghum Mature 73 62 68 72
Sorghum Harvested 39 34 35 42
Rice Harvested 79 70 84 79


National Crop Condition Summary
(VP=Very Poor; P=Poor; F=Fair; G=Good; E=Excellent)
This Week Last Week Last Year
Corn 4 8 20 47 21 4 8 19 47 22 3 8 25 49 15
Soybeans 3 7 22 49 19 3 7 22 49 19 3 9 27 49 12
Sorghum 5 11 29 44 11 6 11 29 44 10 2 6 28 52 12
Cotton 6 19 33 32 10 6 19 33 32 10 8 7 25 42 18

Casey Schuhmacher wants to do the best job he can feeding cattle while limiting feed costs. With soybean prices low, thanks to large global stocks and recent U.S.-China trade disputes, the Chadron, Nebraska cow-calf and stocker producer has considered adding soybeans to some cattle rations.

“I have looked into using beans to replace dry DDG (distillers dried grains) in a backgrounding ration for protein,” Schuhmacher told DTN.

Despite the low cost and large supplies, cattlemen have a lot to consider before feeding whole soybeans to their animals. Cost of the feedstuff, handling logistics and storage concerns, and the issue that beans can have too much protein for cattle rations all have to be considered.

In our “Tariff Realities” series, DTN is looking at challenges facing U.S. farmers and grain elevators this fall as they market, store and transport soybeans under conditions related to China’s 25% retaliatory tariffs. Even as the trade dispute continues, the market has to absorb a projected record soybean crop of 4.69 billion bushels and larger-than-expected stocks of 438 mb of old-crop beans.

Cattlemen are looking at how the large soybean crop situation can be used to their advantage.


Jason Warner, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. based in Eagle, Nebraska, said soybeans can be fed to beef cattle, depending on price relative to other protein feeds such as DDG.

Feeding three to four lbs./head/day of soybeans to beef cattle can be an excellent source of supplemental protein and energy.

Most soybeans test around 40% crude protein and 20% fat, with the fat content being a limiting factor for soybean inclusion in most rations, he said.

“In most rations for beef cattle, dietary fat levels in excess of 6% to 6.5% dry matter basis can have a negative effect on fiber digestibility,” Warner said. “Soybeans should be limited to 25% of the ration and probably closer to 5% to 10% in most situations depending on other feeds in the ration.”

Warner said soybeans do not need to be processed or heat-treated, they can be fed raw to cattle.

However, beans do contain anti-nutritional factors that interfere with protein digestion in mono-gastric animals and animals without a fully functional rumen. Cattle nutritionists say to avoid feeding raw beans to nursing calves or calves less than 300 to 350 lbs., he said.

Soybeans also contain the enzyme urease, which converts urea to ammonia, Warner said. The amount of urea included in a ration from other sources needs to be considered when feeding soybeans.

Warner said an important consideration with feeding soybeans is the protein the feed contains and how it is utilized by the animal. The protein in soybeans is mostly rumen-degradable (RDP), with a lesser amount being rumen-undegradable (RUP), or bypass protein, he said.

“Research has demonstrated that growing cattle will respond positively to additional rumen undegradable protein supplementation,” he said.


The real question is does feeding whole soybeans to growing or finishing cattle make economic sense right now? In nearly all cases, the answer is clearly “no,” especially with the adoption of DDG as a source of protein in cattle diets, according to Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University Extension Beef Feedlot Management Associate.

The feeding of DDG has completely changed how feeders have operated the last 20 to 25 years, at least in terms of proving a relatively inexpensive source of protein, he said. As long as DDG are inexpensive to feed, soybeans remain a more costly protein source in many rations.

Rusche pointed to the current price of DDG, which is around $125/ton in his region of South Dakota. With this DDG price, the soybean price would have to drop to $3.83/bushel to be economically completive. If DDG were to increase to around $150/ton, the soybean price to be economically feasible would have to be $4.90/bushel.

“About the only situation in which beans could be a viable, economic option would be if the beans were damaged, from like a freeze,” Rusche said.

Rusche said there could also be cases in certain Northern Plains locations where marketing channels become so congested that cash bids dry up and storage options become limited. In this case, feeding soybeans may be a strategy to move the crop and avoid cash outlays for purchased feeds, he said.


Rusche said the other issues keeping cattlemen from feeding soybeans is the ability to store beans and the logistics of feeding it as a feed. While many cattlemen maybe have bins to store beans, they don’t necessarily have the facilities set up to feed beans, he said.

Schuhmacher, the Nebraska cattle producer, said his issue with feeding soybeans wasn’t storing the whole bean, but once it was run through the roller miller the oil would start to spoil and go bad. As long as it could be fed in under seven days, this could be an option but he didn’t always think this would feasible, he said.

He would use beans in a grow ration with dry hay and corn and then substitute DDG with soybean. The DDG price would have to increase to around $195 to $200/ton to make soybeans feasible as an economic feed source, he said.

“I talked to several nutritionists and they said feeding soybeans could be an acceptable replacement (for DDG) in a growing ration,” Schuhmacher said. “They did say too much rumen-degradable protein, however, would prevent it from being an efficient finishing ration.”

While soybeans are piling up on some areas of the country, they’re not generally available to all cattle feeders.

Schuhmacher said that while the Nebraska Sandhills he calls home aren’t a hotbed of soybean production, he does have access to them as a feed source. The local soybean price is around $6.70/bushel currently in his area, he said.

The North Dakota State University Extension report on feeding soybeans to cattle can be found at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/…

The U.S. Soy industry continually works to ensure the needs of its international customers. Through research on meal innovations that enhance the nutritional density of U.S. Soy, the industry develops a more desirable product for animal agriculture producers abroad. Researching  protein genetics and turning fiber into energy are just two of the exciting developments aimed at further differentiating U.S. soybean meal from the competition.

The Research: Discovering New Protein Genetics

What it is: Researchers with Corteva Agriscience are currently evaluating 15,000 lines of soybeans for high protein soybean traits that maintain oil levels and yield.

What it does: This research program looks to provide U.S. farmers with a high-yielding soybean that also offers higher protein content, which enhances value for the end-user. High-yield and high-protein soybeans ensure a consistent supply of U.S. Soy with the traits customers need.

What’s next: As researchers identify new sources of protein genes, those improved traits will be incorporated into high-yielding soybean lines for testing. These advanced U.S. soybeans will provide the oil and protein content end-users need and the high yields farmers want.

The Research: Converting Fiber to Energy

What it is: This research focuses on reducing raw-ingredient components animals cannot digest by turning indigestible carbohydrates, such as oligoasaccharides, into something the animal can put to use. Poultry and livestock nutritionists want the most nutrient-dense, efficient feeds and this research increases the profit potential of using U.S. soybean meal in their feed.

What it does: Through traditional breeding methods, this non-GMO trait reduces the oligoasaccharide content in soybeans and turns indigestible carbohydrates into energy, increasing the value of U.S. soybean meal for customers.

What’s next: With confirmation from the feed trials that this trait provides value, researchers will further explore soybean lines with low oligosaccharide content and develop them into varieties for use by the livestock industry in the U.S. and around the world.

The Global Animal Nutrition Working Group hosted 25 nutritionists, farmer leaders and industry experts in Phuket, Thailand in advance of the Feed Technology and Animal Nutrition Conference.

The soy checkoff-hosted event offered open-forum discussions and presentations on topics including protein meal and its importance to poultry, the economic value of soybean meal in least cost-formulations and improving U.S. soy’s nutritional bundle.

The event also highlighted the benefits of U.S. soy and the continuous efforts of farmers to improve composition and provide consistent supply.

Cecille Lazaro, animal nutritionist and research and development operations manager for San Miguel Foods, Inc. in the Philippines, is already impressed with U.S. soybean meal.

Lazaro, a 35-year industry veteran, says the quality of protein and the amino acid profile of U.S. soybean meal is more consistent than other origins.

“From the nutritionist point of view, we look at the quality of the soybean, meaning quality of the protein. We look at the consistency in terms of digestibility, like the amino acid content,” Lazaro says. “U.S. soybean meal has been giving a more consistent range for the spread of protein. I would say that in terms of quality, there’s more consistency in U.S. beans.”

Like Lazaro, Secretary General of the Thai Feed Mill Association, Boontham Aramsiriwat, says consistency and quality of soybean meal is equally important to them in Thailand. Thailand lacks sufficient production in domestic animal feed protein, a high necessity for imported soybean meal. According to Aramsiriwat, Thailand imports approximately 6 million metric tons of soybean and soybean meal annually.

“Besides consistency and quality, we have found availability as an important factor.” Aramsiriwat says. “Soybeans are an important item that we can bring in every day and every month in the market.”

Each year U.S. soy’s availability has improved, along with its production. This increased availability has given Thai customers access to more soybean meal, which helps to improve the country’s animal agriculture industry, as well, according to Aramsiriwat.

Another goal of the checkoff organizing the Internatinal Animal Nutrition Working Group at the Feed Technology and Animal Nutrition Conference was to enhance interest in U.S. soybean meal as the way to meet the increasing demand for meal in Southeast Asia.

Participants expressed gratitude for U.S. soy as a product and pleased to open a dialogue with other nutritionists.

Marie Josephine Milagros Cruz, a nutritionist with Bounty Fresh Food, Inc., says the soy checkoff has a positive impact on Philippine economics.

“We appreciate [U.S. soybean farmers],” says Cruz. “We know that they fund the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), and we get goods, services and information from USSEC that we couldn’t get otherwise. So indirectly, they are supporting the Philippine animal industry.”

The event is only the beginning of conversations between U.S. and international farmers, animal nutritionists and industry experts.

Despite recent trade uncertainty, customers in Southeast Asia value the reliability, quality and consistent supply of soy that the U.S. offers, and the future of soybeans looks positive and promising in the region.

“On behalf of our Feed Mill Association in Thailand, we would like to thank U.S. soybean farmers, because we use their products to make our food chain more beautiful in Thailand,” Aramsiriwat says. “We have improved our efficiency, productivity, and improved our competitiveness to serve the world in terms of food, and preserved food for our country.”