Iowa farmers say yield top factor in soybean variety choice

By Ann Tracy Mueller

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2014 - Iowa soybean farmers say yield is the top factor in determining the seed they'll plant and the person on whom they rely for objective information is their seed dealer.

Though farmers overwhelmingly support continued production of genetically-modified crops in addition to other types of crops, about 60 percent of those responding don't favor federal labels for foods produced with genetically engineered materials.

These findings are from a just-completed survey of 130 Iowa soybean farmers conducted by Agri-Pulse and the Iowa Soybean Association.

Almost 95 percent of Iowa farmers responding to the survey say they support production of seeds - with 44.6 percent saying they support the continued production of genetically-modified crops and 50 percent answering that they support all forms of seeds, whether produced as organic, conventional or through biotechnology.

Lets Talk Food When asked if they favor a federal label indicating which foods are produced with genetically engineered materials, 61.5 percent said no, 17.6 percent said yes, 19.2 percent weren't sure, and 1.5 percent did not answer.

The farmers were asked to rate factors important to them when selecting soybean varieties for their farms, ranking them from one to eight with one being the highest. Respondents could choose more than one response. Almost 81 percent said “yield” was the top choice, followed by 57.6 percent citing “future profitability on my farm.” Weed resistance was a top choice for 32.3 percent, followed by pest resistance (30 percent), and customer demand and markets (25.3 percent).

Higher protein and oil content (17.6 percent), delivery options (13 percent) and availability of premiums (12.3) had the least impact when choosing soybean varieties.

Farmers were then asked to choose just one factor most important to them in selected seed varieties. Yield ranked highest at 63 percent while “future profitability” gathered 24.6 percent. Weed resistance ranked third (6.1 percent), followed by “customer demands or markets” (4.6 percent).

When it comes to making objective decisions about new soybean varieties for their farms, more than four of 10 farmers (43 percent) rely on their seed dealers, compared to only 1.5 percent taking a neighbor's advice. Yet, nearly a third of respondents seek information from a variety of sources, including local retailers, land grant university experts and others.

Almost nine out of 10 of the Iowa soybean farmers responding to the poll have heard or read about high oleic soybean varieties, while only 5.3 percent say they haven't heard of these varieties. When asked about their understanding of what attributes fit their understanding of high oleic varieties, 76.1 percent checked the option, “varieties with an improved oil for end-use customers,” while 11.5 percent did not answer.

One poll question was, “High oleic soybeans are required to be identity-preserved soybeans, but have limited handling procedures. Does this requirement make you more or less likely to grow high oleic soybeans?”

More than half of farmers responding (56.1 percent) say they would not grow high oleic soybeans because of the identity-preserved requirements, while 23 percent say that's not a deterrent and 17.6 percent would consider growing them after learning more about handling requirements and price premiums.

More than two-thirds of respondents (69.2 percent) have not been approached by anyone about growing identity-preserved soybeans. Of those who have been approached, the pitches were almost equally distributed among seed dealers, buyers and extension agents.

“High oleic soybeans address the top two concerns of farmers cited in this survey - yield and future profitability,” says Delbert Christensen, a United Soybean Board director from Audubon, Iowa. “Farmers in the eastern soybean belt are already seeing these varieties perform in their fields and the premiums more than make up for what limited handling procedures are required. We're excited to get high oleic moving westward so my fellow Iowa farmers can see their profit potential first-hand.”

This informal Internet survey gathered responses from 130 active soybean farmers. The survey is conducted six times annually to gain insight into farmer opinions on timely issues and topics including legislative and regulatory issues, crop conditions, planting and harvesting progress, yield estimates and other timely issues impacting farmer profitability.

See the results of the:

·         Inaugural Agri-Pulse Farm Opinion Poll, conducted in February.  

·         Poll on nutrient reduction strategy, conducted in May.

About Agri-Pulse: Agri-Pulse is a trusted farm and rural policy source in Washington, D.C., providing a balanced perspective on a wide variety of issues including the farm bill, nutrition, trade, food safety, environment, biotechnology, organic, conservation and crop insurance. For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com. 

About Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) develops policies and programs that help Iowa's more than 40,000 soybean farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. The association was founded in 1964 and is governed by an elected volunteer board of 21 farmers. It strives to be honest and transparent, fact-based and data driven and committed to environmental stewardship, collaboration and partnerships.

Not funded by the soybean checkoff

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For more news, go to www.agri-pulse.com.


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