Soybeans are a key sustainable crop in Del., Md.
Soybeans are one of the key sustainable crops in Delmarva states.
“The rain in early September has helped with the double cropping of soybeans,” said Danielle Bauer, executive director of both the Delaware Soybean Board and the Maryland Soybean Board. “Pricing is good for soybean farmers.”
“Full-season soybeans are being produced with average to above-average yield this year,” said Jim Lewis, agriculture agent for the University of Maryland Extension of Caroline County. “For double-crop soybeans, some areas have the potential for average to above-average yields.”
Lewis noted that while input costs for soybean farmers have been increasing, farmers have been able to get higher prices for their crop beyond the increased expenses. In 2021, Delaware farmers utilized 155,000 acres to grow soybeans, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Of that acreage, 103,000 were non-irrigated acres with an average yield of 47.2 bushels per acre; 52,000 acres were irrigated acres with an average yield of 58.6 bushels per acre.
The DDA reported that a total of 7,.8 million bushels of soybeans were produced in Delaware in 2021, with $94. million in production value from soybeans.
In Maryland, farmers planted 490,000 acres of soybeans in 2021 and harvested 25.7 million bushels for an average yield of 52.4 bushels per acre, according to USDA survey data.
Along with general commodity soybeans, farmers in the Mid-Atlantic have a value-added option in growing high oleic soybeans.
“Delaware farmers are at the beginning of a revolution, as advances like high oleic soybean oil open the door to more products in the ag pharmaceutical realm, focused on improving health,” stated Michael Scuse, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture. “This is going to change the way people live, and for the better.
“The agriculture industry in Delmarva needs more ways to ensure farm viability, and products like high oleic is one that is working for our family farms.”
The region’s buyer of high oleic soybeans is Perdue Agribusiness.
“We purchase about 5 million bushels of high oleic soybeans annually, said Gary Cordier, senior vice president of grain and oilseeds at Perdue AgriBusiness. “We then process those beans and refine them into 6,000 truckloads of high oleic soybean oil for our customers.”
Perdue AgriBusiness has processing plants located in Bainbridge, Pa., and Salisbury, Md., and a refinery in Salisbury.
“Our customers are multinational packaged food companies,” Cordier said. “A number of our customers use high oleic soybean oil to provide more stable and longer shelf lives for their products.”
Farmers that plant and harvest high oleic soybeans are generally able to get higher prices for their crop production as compared to farmers who focus on regular soybeans.
“We first offered the premium to farmers for high oleic soybeans because of the additional costs incurred by farmers to grow these beans,” Cordier said. “We’ve been able to continue to provide a premium to farmers because of the value added to our customers by using high oleic beans.”
He noted that “demand for high oleic soybean oil has increased in recent years as supplies for canola oil and corn oil have not been sufficient to meet the demands within the market.”
Perdue AgriBusiness is seeking to expand the supply of high oleic soybeans by encouraging more farmers to plant and harvest this crop.
“We are looking for additional farmers to grow high oleic soybeans,” said Cordier. “We’re trying to grow the supply. Due to demand, we’re seeking to purchase these beans in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.”
With additional acreage, Cordier said. “we’d love to be able to convert one of our processing plants to process only high oleic beans. We’re at about 100,000 acres right now. If we could get to 300,000 acres in the future, our efficiencies of scale would help us meet the growing demand for high oleic soybean oil.”