November 23, 2005


US 2005 soy crop has highest soyoil content



A quality analysis of the US soybean harvest funded by the American Soybean Association and conducted by Iowa State University (ISU) suggests the 2005 crop carries the highest vegetable oil content ever seen, although protein levels have returned to 1999 lows, likely the result of mid-season drought stress.


The report said an average bushel of 2005 crop soybeans with 13 percent moisture content is comprised of 34.92 percent protein and 19.41 percent oil.


"The protein content is approximately 0.5 percentage points below, and the oil approximately 0.8 percentage points above the long-term US averages," said Dr. Charles Hurburgh Jr, ISU agricultural engineer and one of the report's three authors. "The soybeans from the 2005 crop will produce, on average, 42.5 pounds of 48 percent protein meal and 11.4 pounds of oil per bushel."


Those concentrations assume that soymeal is formulated with a residual oil content of 0.5 percent, consistent with trading rules of the National Oilseed Processors Association.


"The protein was the next to lowest, but the oil was the highest of the 20 year history (of the quality survey)," noted Hurburgh. "The sum (total of oil and protein) is the third highest in the record. This means that, in terms of total outputs-meal and oil-the soybean value, on average, is quite good. Processors should be able to meet target meal protein levels and benefit from higher oil yields."


The survey attributes the shift toward an oil-heavy quality composition to development of an early- and mid-season drought that affected key production areas of the Midwest, centred on northern Illinois.


Protein levels were, "established by mid-season by production of vegetative tissues, but continued plant metabolism in late fall resulted in more oil and greater yield," said the report. "Beginning in late September, there were rains across all growing regions, accompanied by abnormally warm conditions for the season. There was an abundance of light and heat to continue photosynthesis at a very high rate late into the season. Thus on a percentage basis, the protein content was lower."


Despite lower levels of crude protein, Hurburgh said, "the US crop will easily make 48-percent meal (the industry standard for high-protein soymeal), although, because of the higher oil and lower protein, there will be less meal per bushel than average."


This year's sharp protein decline puts US-produced soybeans with a lower content than those grown in several other areas of the world. However, the report adds the US soybean crop, "while lower in protein quantity than soybeans from other countries, has better protein quality", as measured by their amino acid content.


There are five major essential amino acids that US nutritionists use to balance livestock feed rations; lysine, methionine, cystine, threonine and tryptophan. These are amino acids that swine and poultry particularly need to efficiently grow, but cannot make for themselves.


The report notes that data collected by the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration of the USDA indicates that the US soybean crop may also be getting cleaner.


"There is some evidence to suggest that the average foreign material content of US exports has decreased-an average level of under 1.5 percent since 2002, compared with over 1.6 percent in the eight years previous to 2002," it said.


Moisture content of the 2005 harvest was described as, "generally low", with normal variability in quality occurring from region to region across the US.


Virginia produced the highest protein soybeans of any state in 2005 at 36.6 percent, while the highest oil content, 20.5 percent, was found in one sample from Florida.


The survey, conducted since 1986, was generated from 1,600 samples submitted by soybean producers in 30 US states.


The USDA currently estimates 2005 US soybean production at 3.043 billion bushels, just 2.6 percent smaller than the record-setting 2004 harvest.


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