Maryland farmer grows high oleic for the added economic stability
On the Chesapeake Bay’s eastern shore, soybean farmers have an opportunity to increase their profitability that’s spreading to more regions every year: growing high oleic soybeans. Farmer Jennie Schmidt took that opportunity a few years back, and she’s seen great results.
“We grow high oleic soybeans because one of our largest local grain buyers, Perdue, offers a price incentive to farmers who plant them,” Schmidt says. It’s beneficial to take advantage of premium soybeans such as high oleic, especially in downturns in ag markets.
In the field, farmers care for high oleic soybeans much like they would commodity varieties.
“Specialty beans are handled very similarly, except we ensure excellent recordkeeping and thorough housekeeping to make sure our equipment is properly cleaned out – but it’s worth it,” Schmidt says. “In fact, for the last three years, our high oleic varieties have been our top performers, so they provide greater economic stability two-fold: higher yield with price incentives.”
But premiums aren’t the only reason to plant high oleic. Schmidt, a registered dietitian, is excited to grow a crop that has the potential to make an impact on diets in the U.S.
“Food companies are buying high oleic soybean oil from our local soybean processor and using it to eliminate trans fats,” Schmidt says. “Perdue has an edible oil refinery in our region, so the oil that’s extracted is refined and sold to food companies for use in packaged foods and baked goods,” Schmidt says.
Commodity soybean oil would be partially hydrogenated to achieve the same fry life and shelf stability, a process that adds trans fats. High oleic soybean oil has those qualities without partial hydrogenation.
In fact, Schmidt says, high oleic soybean oil has a fatty acid profile that’s similar to olive oil – high in monounsaturated fats with zero grams trans fat.
“Perdue can offer a price incentive to farmers because of the demand they have for the refined oil,” Schmidt says.