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Soybean Color Variation Poses Challenges for Grain Buyers

Soybeans of Other Colors (SBOC) are causing grading issues for grain buyers, exporters alike

Stepanuch | BIGSTOCK
Stepanuch | BIGSTOCK

Soybeans of other Colors (SBOC) is yet another challenging issue the agriculture industry has had to face this year.

Simply stated, SBOC includes soybeans that have green, black, brown or bicolored seed coats. While they are nothing new, in the last 3 to 5 years there’s been a marked increase.

As of July, 25% of USDA certificates for U.S. No. 2 soybean or lower was due to SBOC, meaning the amount of SBOC in U.S. No. 1 soybean has increased threefold.

No correlation between color and quality

Initial end-use testing indicates no correlation between the seed coat color issues and the final quality of the interior of the soybean. Meal and oil tests seem to indicate normal results.

These varieties also have specific other agronomic advantages related to weed control.

Unfortunately, because of SBOC more and more soybeans are not making grade as No. 1 or No. 2 using current Federal Grain Inspection Service grading factors, making it harder for farmers to find markets.

SBOC is leading to rejections at either the origin or destination of these shipments. Furthermore, a high level of SBOC can result in monetary discounts on the crops.

CGI, NGFA working together to find solutions

Columbia Grain has been working with the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North American Export Grain Association to navigate the hurdles presented by SBOC and find solutions for their producers and end users.

“CGI plans to actively engage on this topic to make our producers and others aware of the challenges,” said Jeff Van Pevenage, CEO and president of CGI.

“It’s our job to inform the producer about the markets in which their soybeans can be sold. SBOC increases risk for all in the value chain.”

Other countries don't use seed coat color as a grading factor

CGI is in favor of working together as an industry to conduct independent research to determine if functionality is impacted by seed coat discoloration associated with currently commercially available genetically engineered seeds, looking at the impact of coat discoloration on processing as well as on the nutritional values of soybeans and their products/ byproducts.

“Other major soy producing and exporting countries do not use seed coat color as a grading factor in their grading standards,” said Van Pevenage.

“The U.S. is at a disadvantage compared to other export competitors because of SBOC and we are committed to addressing this issue to support our customers to continue our mission of nourishing the world, safely.”

Kurt Haarmann, senior vice president of CGI's Grain Division, said his company takes great care in making sure it follows the grading standards set forth by the USDA to help assure that it can then meet the requirements when CGI sells the commodities purchased from its producers.

“We segregate grain and oilseeds to the best of our ability based on grade factors we are seeing and the requirements of the export market," he explains.

"Columbia Grain is actively working with other industry partners through our representatives at the NGFA and the North American Export Grain Association to address this problem with our buyers and the Federal Grain Inspection Service.

"We urge our producers to contact their CGI representative if they feel this could be a problem for their crop.”

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