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2012 Drought Impacts U.S. Soybean Quality Results

According to a recent soy-checkoff-funded study, the overall oil levels in last year's U.S. soybean crop increased over the previous year, while average protein fell. United Soybean Board Customer Focus Action Team Chair Sharon Covert says U.S. soy's biggest users pay attention to those results.

"The oil and protein levels in our soybeans are very important to our customers," said Covert, a soybean farmer from Tiskilwa, Ill. "We should take every possible course of action to improve our soy oil and meal, which will help us protect and expand our markets."

The results of the soy checkoff's annual U.S. Soybean Quality Survey found the oil level in the overall U.S. soybean crop rose by .3 point to 18.5 percent last year. And protein dropped a half-point to 34.3 percent. But for a crop baked by drought conditions for much of the year, that's pretty good, says the scientist in charge of the research.

Seth Naeve, who conducted the study, says the drought likely had a hand in holding protein levels down.

"Weather has a dramatic impact on soybean quality," said Naeve, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. "Last year, the drought affected different regions differently, so we weren't exactly sure how quality would play out. Overall, I think we're happy that quality was as good as it was."

Beginning with the 2013 crop, the checkoff will be implementing a new program to monitor weather conditions in soybean test plots and correlate that information with quality outcomes and variety performance. This work will complement the Soybean Quality Survey.

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