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Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board

Soy News July 1998


USDA predicts record soybean acreage

For eight of the past 10 years, U.S. soybean farmers have increased the number of soybean acres planted.

Farmers are expected to plant a record 72 million acres of soybeans in 1998, up from 70.85 million last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Prospective Plantings Report issued in March.

"The checkoff has played a fundamental role in the growth of the soybean industry," says United Soybean Board Chairman Byron Lemoine, a soybean farmer from Hamburg, La.

"Checkoff investments have helped contribute to the increase in soybean and soybean product exports, improved production technologies and growing domestic demand, which in turn have had an impact on the rise in the number of soybean acres being planted."

Lemoine continues, "It is encouraging to see that farmers recognize the value of planting more soybean acres and growing global demand. It remains the goal of the soybean checkoff to build U. S. soybean utilization to a level of three billion bushels, while improving production efficiencies and increasing the farmgate value of the U. S. soybean crop."

A significant amount of the soybean acreage expansion is occurring in the northern plains, where farmers are shifting from wheat. For the second consecutive year, soybean acreage is expected to exceed wheat acreage. Other new soybean acres are a result of new production land coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program and a shift from corn or sorghum to soybeans.

If grain prices continue to decline and wet spring weather persists, USDA says soybean acreage may rise over the predicted intentions. However, the Food Agricultural Policy Research Institute predicts only 70.4 million acres of soybeans will be planted.

The regions with the highest average yields per acre are increasing acres, while low-yielding regions are losing acres.

USDA estimates the acreage yield per acre will be 39 bushels, same as last year's final calculation. Last year, farmers planted the second largest soybean crop in history. As a result of the high number of planted acres, improved production techniques and a high yield, the largest crop in history was harvested. Using its acreage and yield estimates, USDA is projecting another record harvest of approximately 2.8 billion bushels, which would surpass the record set in 1997 by 82.5 million bushels.

Drought-resistant varieties coming

Soybean checkoff-funded research being conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Raleigh, N. C., indicates U. S. soybean farmers are close to having drought-resistant varieties of soybeans.

Researchers from across the south and southeast have made significant advancements in testing these drought-resistant varieties with genes that have been incorporated from exotic foreign varieties.

Work on identifying drought tolerant genes began in the 1980s, says Tommy Carter, a research geneticist and ARS project leader.

"We started screening some exotic soybean types from around the world, trying to find something that would help us develop varieties that withstand dry weather, "Carter explains. "That work led to a discovery of one exotic type from Japan that we have been using."

Carter says that variety with the necessary trait is a parent - and a grandparent in some cases - of some of the new breeding lines that have been tested. Soybean types from Egypt, Nepal and China have also been identified as having drought tolerance.

Testing drought-resistant varieties depends on growing conditions.

"Our data from the droughts in 1995 and 1997 has been consistent and shows promise," says Carter. "We think there will be some dry weather this year, which should strengthen our research."

Soybean checkoff investments by U. S. soybean farmers, Carter says, have been instrumental in helping move the research forward.

"Without the soybean farmers' help (the soybean checkoff), it might take 20 years to get something into the marketplace that farmers could use," Carter says.

"With the farmers' help, we have been able to cut that time in half and speed up what we do."

Railway lubricants newest marketing spot for soybean oil

Environmental and government agencies have been crying foul for years as total-loss lubricants made from petroleum have been leaving after-effects on the environment.

Now, soybean checkoff-funded research has generated safer and more environmentally friendly soybased, total-loss lubricants.

Total-loss lubricants are oils applied to equipment in field services that are not recycled, thereby lost directly to the environment as a result of their use.

"Because these lubricants fall directly on the ground or in the water, it is imperative they be environmentally friendly and not persist in the environment," says USB New Uses Chair Gary Parker, a soybean farmer from Moran, Kan.

"Petroleum oils are persistent and not suitable in these applications. Soybean-based oil lubricants are environmentally friendly and can be formulated to meet or exceed industry specifications."

International Lubricants Inc. (ILI) is leading the research in this field and has developed a soy-based lubricant for use with railroad wheel flanges and switches. Lubricants are used on rail wheels to reduce friction and corrosion, which improves efficiency. Using biodegradable products also reduces the amount of pollutants falling on to the ground around railroad tracks.

"The railroad industry is extremely interested in this product because it wants to avoid regulatory penalties and environmental cleanup costs," says Blaine Rhodes, director of research and development of ILI. "Plus, soy-based rail flange lubricants reduce friction, thereby increasing mileage."

According to Rhodes, the superior lubricity and coating properties of properly formulated soy-based rail flange lubricants improve the environmental effects and efficiency of use over petroleum-based flange lubricants.

In May, Rhodes presented a report on ILI's research on the use of soy-based rail flange and switch lubricants at the American Oil Chemist society annual meeting in Chicago. Twenty-five other reports on checkoff-funded, new use research were also presented at the meeting.

Record year for exports of soy products

The U.S. soybean industry may set several export records in the 1997/98 marketing year if USDA and private sector estimates prove accurate. Assuming the global economy remains buoyant for the remainder of the marketing year, the U.S. will probably achieve the following records:

  • Record exports of soybeans of 945 million bushels. The previous record of 929 million bushels was set during the 1981/82 marketing year.

    Thus far in the marketing year (as of April 16), the U.S. has exported or sold for export a total of 831 million bushels of soybeans. The soybean marketing year ends on Aug. 31,1998.

  • Record exports of soybean meal of about 7.5 million metric tons (mmt). The previous record of 7.196 mmt was set in the 1979-80 marketing year. With five months left to go in the current marketing year, the U.S. has exported or sold for export a total of 7.27 mmt of meal. The soybean meal marketing year ends on Sept. 30, 1998.

  • Record exports of soybean oil of about 1.32 mmt. The previous record of 1.22 mmt was set during the 1979/80 marketing year. Thus far in the marketing year, the U.S. has exported or sold for export 1.042 mmt of soybean oil, not including sales and donations under U.S. food aid programs. The soybean meal marketing year ends on Sept. 30,1998.

  • Record domestic crushings of soybeans of about 1.545 billion. bushels. The previous record of 1.43,6 billion bushels was set in the 1996/ 97 marketing year.

  • Record total use of U.S. soybeans of about 2.63 billion bushels. The previous record of 2.443 billion bushels was set in the 1996/97 marketing year.

It is important to note that the above records will occur in a marketing year that has seen record South American soybean production of almost 52 mmt (1.91 billion bushels) and an economic downturn in Korea and Southeast Asia.

Included in this year's soybean exports are over 48 million bushels shipped to Argentina and Brazil early in the marketing year. This compares to the less than 9 million bushels of soybeans the U.S. imported from Brazil during the 1996/ 97 marketing year.


Art Simpson, Marked Tree, Chair
David Walt, Dumas, Vice Chair
Mary Ratcliffe, Sweet Home, Secretary/Treasurer
Jerry Ford, Lake Village*
Thad Freeland, Tillar
Donna Horton, Forrest City
Richard "Dick' Howard, Clarkedale
Paul McCutchen, Parkin*
Roger Pohlner, Fisher

*Designates representatives on the United Soybean Board

Staffing provided by Warren Carter, Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. For questions about any information in this newsletter or for more information on board-funded programs, please contact any of the above board members, call 501-228-1238, or write Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, P.O. Box 31, Little Rock, AR 72203.

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For additional information about any board-related activity contact:

Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board
ATTN: Warren Carter
P.O. Box 31
Little Rock, AR 72203-0031
Phone: 501-228-1265

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