ISA Initiates Effort to Enhance Illinois Soybean Quality for Greater Profitability

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is initiating a new effort to enhance the quality of Illinois soybeans and ultimately the profitability of the state's soybean farmers.  Soybean quality has slowly been trending down in recent years as yield has been trending up, which can affect the price soybean farmers receive for soybeans.

"While Illinois farmers sell bushels of soybeans, processors purchase those soybeans based on their oil and protein meal content.  The higher the percentage of oil or protein or both, the greater the value of the soybeans," explains Dan Farney, ISA Production Committee chair and soybean farmer from Morton.  "The ideal soybean has 19 percent oil and 35 percent protein, the amount of protein it takes to make a high-protein 48 percent meal.  Oil and protein below those levels can cause processors to widen the basis and lower what they are willing to pay for those beans."

Illinois soybean oil content today ranges from 17 to 21 percent, while protein content ranges from 31 to 38 percent statewide.  ISA plans through increased harvest sampling to get a better understanding about those ranges and how soybean quality varies across the state.  

The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) annually conducts a survey of soybean quality.  Historically 200 to 250 samples are voluntarily sent in from Illinois farmers each fall.  ISA wants to double the number of samples to 500 this year to include more farmers from more counties.

"USSEC cannot complete its annual quality survey without cooperation from farmers sending in samples.  Farmers who already submit samples automatically receive a request to submit, and now other possible participants will get the same request this year," says Farney.  "All individual results are kept confidential and reported in a combined format with other samples received."

Participation is simple, using the USSEC sample kit.  Each farmer collects a one-pound sample from a single variety grown in 2011.  ISA asks that farmers sample the variety grown on the largest number of their acres.  Farmers must fill the sample bag completely and tightly close the zipper opening.  Included with the sample should be the name or zip code of the town closest to the farm where the sample originated, along with the soybean brand and variety number.  Farmers should also include their address to ensure that sample results can be mailed back.  The deadline for submitting samples is October 20, 2011, so that tests can be run and results analyzed this fall.  No postage is required.  Simply place the sample bag in any mailbox.

In exchange for the sample, USSEC will provide each farmer with a free analysis of the protein and oil content in the variety submitted.  Farmers who do not receive sample kits may contact Judy Smith via email at or via phone at 309-808-3612 to request a kit.

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers.  The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions, and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs. For more information, visit: