November 19, 2008


2008 US soy has lowest protein on record - soy group



An annual quality survey funded by the American Soybean Association and the U.S. Soybean Export Council indicates that the 2008 U.S. soybean crop carries the lowest protein level on record.


Average U.S. soybean protein concentration was 1.2 percentage points lower in 2008 - at 34 percent - and average oil was 0.6 percentage points higher - at 19.2 percent - when compared with 2007, said the report, which was conducted by a team of professors and scientists from the University of Minnesota, utilizing 1,447 samples submitted from 30 states.


At just 34 percent the average protein content of U.S. soy is thus down 1.3 percentage points from normal, and represents the single-lowest level found since the survey was initiated in 1986.


Soy meal is the preeminent supplemental protein source for U.S. livestock and poultry rations, accounting for two-thirds of the total oilseed meal usage in the world. Cattle, poultry and swine account for more than 85 percent of annual soy meal use, with the balance consumed as pet food, and human food.


Numerous studies have shown that environmental stresses have a major impact on the nutritional composition of soy, indicating that seed protein content can often be drastically reduced during growing seasons - such as 2008 - which feature heavy rains that produce insufficient nitrogen fixation or enhance pod-fill.


Precipitation levels reached 150-300 percent of normal across much of the western half of the U.S. soybean belt during, April, June and October of this year, causing record spring flooding in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois.


Western Corn Belt states tended to have larger than average reductions in protein concentration relative to 2007, said the survey. This is especially true for the states of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa, where protein levels were more than 1.5 percentage points lower than in 2007.


By contrast, the vegetable oil content of 2008 soybeans was 0.5 percentage points above the 23-year average; again confirming the normally contrary relationship between protein concentrations and oil levels.


Nebraska, Michigan, and Ohio saw oil concentrations increase by 0.8 percentage points over 2007, said the report.


Soy oil - which is primarily used for cooking and for inclusion in food products - accounts for about half of the intrinsic value of soybeans, which are normally the nations second-most valuable crop, behind corn. Soybeans are the leading agricultural export of the United States.


Although variance in seed-size was not found to be statistically significant, the ASA/USSEC report did note that the US soybean crop was much cleaner than usual in 2008.


Foreign material among the 1374 farmer collected samples evaluated for FM averaged 0.30 percent, said the survey.


According to a USDA report released on Nov. 10, US soy growers are expected to harvest 74.4 million acres of soy this season, producing a crop about 9 percent larger than 2007, totaling 2.921 billion bushels, in all.

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