U.S. growers gear up for high-oleic soybeans

A ‘game changer’ United Soybean Board says it is confident high-oleic soybeans will soon give Canadian canola a run for its money

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — High oleic canola growers are getting one more year of reprieve before facing stiff competition from U.S. soybean growers.


Roll-out of the much anticipated high oleic soybean program has been pushed back another year due to a lack of global approval for the product in key export markets.


At the 2013 Commodity Classic conference, the United Soybean Board (USB) said it expected all global approvals to be in place to pave the way for a major roll-out of the trait in 2014.


But those approvals haven’t come in time to carry through with full commercialization this year.


Jim Call, chair of USB, told growers attending the 2014 Commodity Classic that there will be an estimated 200,000 acres planted this year, up from 50,000 acres in 2013.


“Our industry goal is to have 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans by 2023,” he said.


The USB is spending $60 million over five years starting in 2013 to help ensure that happens.


Russ Sanders, marketing director for enhanced oil ventures at DuPont, which is the developer of Plenish high oleic soybeans, said the trait is a game-changer for the industry and will help soybeans reclaim market share lost to canola.


“Sometimes I think we incorrectly look at high oleic as another trait that we’re bringing to the market,” he said.


“This is really a fundamental repositioning of this industry in a lot of ways. In our shop we talk about literally the reinvention of soybean oil.”


Plenish delivers yields on par with Pioneer’s elite commodity soybean varieties. 


Sanders said the soybean industry has a lot of work to do to reclaim market share lost to Canadian canola.


“When you think about high oleic canola, those guys have made terrific progress the last few years and frankly have in some ways eaten our lunch,” he said.


Sarah Vacek, soybean quality traits production manager for Monsanto, said the company’s Vistive Gold soybeans offer growers a $23 per acre advantage over its commodity beans.


That is based on a 60 cent per bushel premium for growing Vistive Gold in addition to a $12.50 per acre premium to compensate growers for extra stewardship steps they have to take due to the lack of approval for the product in key export markets like Europe.


Monsanto hopes to achieve all regulatory approvals in time for a 2015 commercial launch of the product and hopes to see big acres at that time.


“The one thing that we hear over and over again is that there is demand for this product,” said Vacek.


Call said high oleic soybeans are expected to elevate the price of commodity soybeans by 66 cents per bu., so even soybean farmers who live in areas unsuitable for production of the crop will benefit from the new trait.


“That 66 cents per bushel, it may seem like a small number but it equates to $3.8 billion annually back to U.S. soybean farmers,” he said.

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