Saturday, April 1, 2017

High Oleic Soybeans

High Oleic Soybeans 

This is a follow up to my post about GMO vs NonGMO 2016 cost of production and a little more details about what high oleic soybeans are. 

These soybeans have 2 traits - one is a "gene edit" where the pathway that converts oleic acid to linoleic acid is suppressed. There is no "trait" added, just a silencing of an enzymatic pathway that converts one type of oil to another. The other "trait" is the RoundUp resistance that comes from the bacteria Agrobacterium that codes for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. 

These pics show the testing each truckload goes through before unloading. When the truck pulls into the grain elevator, the truck pulls onto a scale to be weighed full and a probe pulls several samples from the trailer to analyze. 

This grain elevator is dedicated 100% to high oleic soybeans. So while they test the beans for moisture like all grain elevators do to be sure they won't go moldy, they also run a test to be sure the soybeans have the correct oil content. Regular beans have a much lower oleic oil content, around 25%, HO beans average >75%.

What's special about oleic oil? It's a monounsaturated fat, in the same category as olive oil. The oil from these beans is transfat free and so has a lot of commercial use in food recipes to remove transfat. It replaces much of the partially hydrogenated soybean oil without significant recipe reformulation.
Because of their specialty oil profile, they have to be tested to be sure they are the correct beans and meet the threshold for oleic oil before the truck can unload. If it doesn't pass, we'd have to haul the beans down to another grain elevator that buys plain commodity soybeans and sell them at a lower price. We get paid a per bushel premium for keeping them pure to their HO variety and not cross contaminate them with any other bean. Essentially it means really good record keeping and really good housekeeping of our equipment. This is why we harvested HO first, to be sure we practiced good identity preservation (IP) apart from the other soybeans we grow.

Once the oil content is verified, we can drive over to the unloading dock and dump the beans into the elevator. (Last pic) Then we pull back on the scale and get an empty weight which will then print out a ticket how many bushels we delivered on that load.

What are the benefits of HO soybeans? These beans are transfat free and the oil extracted from them is more shelf stable and does not need hydrogenation. While you as a consumer cannot yet buy this oil at the grocery store, it is used in commercial food production in frying and in reformulating packaged foods to remove the transfats. 


  1. I did NOT know this. About the High Oleic Soybeans. Thanks for this easy to understand explanation. ---- From someone who has never been on a farm, or ever grown a single thing.


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