Minnesota soybean growers unlock the potential of non-GMO high oleic soybeans and tap into higher margins.

Today’s farm economy remains a challenging environment but changing food market trends represent an opportunity for progressive soybean growers. Shifts in consumer demands for improved health & wellness, transparency, and sustainability are increasing demand for value-added varieties, including non-GMO high oleic and other non-GMO food-grade beans, and can create strategic diversification that helps growers mitigate risk and maximize financial success.

Interest in oil from high oleic soybeans continue to grow among food manufacturers and restauranteurs, creating an opportunity for soybean growers.  Travis Meyer, Head of Procurement at Brushvale Seed, Inc, says, “The largest opportunity that non-GMO high oleic soybeans offer for farmers is first, margin. Currently, the market is depressed, but the premiums and yield advantage of high oleic soybeans versus regular soybeans, give the best opportunity for growers to capture larger margins.”  Brushvale Seed, based in Breckenridge, MN, is a fourth-generation, family-owned seed company playing a leading role in the commercialization of non-GMO high oleic soybeans.  The company current has two varieties ready for planting with additional varieties on the way.  “At Brushvale Seed, these beans are bred with the same strong agronomic traits and disease packages farmers expect in their bean varieties,” say Meyer.  Furthermore, Meyer says farmers growing high oleic soybeans report that they yield on par with or better than their farm’s average – adding profitability and innovation at the same time.

While growing identity-preserved soybeans, like Brushvale Seed’s non-GMO high oleic, may seem like an easy win, farmers must examine their operation before jumping in to make sure they have the components to be successful.  “For farmers who are getting into the specialty soybean market, there are a couple things you must look at. Non-GMO business is not for everybody; there’s a whole different dynamic to the way things are done,” says Meyer.  The successful grower will be a forward-thinking operation that has good on-farm process control.  Non-GMO high oleic beans, just as any other identity-preserved crop, require dedication to ensure segregation.  The successful non-GMO high oleic grower will be diligent in their clean out of their planter, combine and storage bins to ensure maximum value for their crop.  Further, as with many identity-preserved crops, contracts are often buyer call, meaning a grower should expect to store non-GMO high oleic soybeans on the farm.

In addition to good process control, Meyer suggests growers focus on their seed partner.  “Not only do you want good genetics, but also a seed partner that has bred varieties downstream customers demand,” says Meyer.  Brushvale Seed’s non-GMO high oleic varieties not only satisfy the non-GMO oil and protein markets but are food grade beans suitable for traditional soy food markets, thus providing greater demand opportunity. And finally, Meyer suggests starting small.  The non-GMO high oleic market and food grade soybean market align well with dedicating limited initial acreage to begin implementing a profitable diversification strategy.