We operate a 1,100 acre diversified organic grain and livestock farm. Our major crops are corn, soybeans, alfalfa, oats and hay, and we have a cow/calf beef herd. We certify our farm as organic through the Organic Crop Improvement Association and we market our organic crops through our marketing co-op, the Kansas Organic Producers Association (KOP). Our organic production system involves the rigorous use of legume based crop rotations, non-chemical weed control, integration of livestock and crop production and other aspects of sustainable agriculture. Our farm has always been organic and we have certified it as such since 1989.
Ed Reznicek with the Kansas Rural Center helped set up our trial, organize the field day, collect data at harvest and draft this report. Joe and Raymond Vogelsberg helped harvest the test plots. Local seed dealers Keith Bowser and Leo Bindel helped us identify promising varieties and Bindel, with Northrup King, provided free seed. Kansas Organic Producers helped in selecting varieties for the trial, publicizing the field day, and with identifying and obtaining relevant quality tests for the soybeans. Jim Shroyer with Kansas State University helped identify potential clear hilum varieties and seed sources.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
1) There is a strong organic market for clear hilum soybeans. Buyers want certain qualities and are familiar with certain varieties, most of which are Groups I &II and which tend not to yield as well in our region. In the past we have seen where premium prices for certain varieties may be more than offset by reduced yields due to less suitability for our region. Early Group IV soybeans have the best yield potential for our region. Identifying clear hilum soybean varieties that are agronomically well suited for our region and that meet quality criteria for organic soybean buyers is a barrier we seek to overcome in order to better participate in the organic soybean market.
2) We located three promising, clear hilum, Group III (Ohlde 3374) and early Group IV (NK 42-32 & Reids 400) varieties. We also included a late Group II clear hilum variety (Norland) that has worked well for a neighboring KOP member and that has performed well for an area tofu processor. For a control variety we use Williams 82, a good performing public variety commonly used as a control in trials in this region. We planted each of these varieties in randomized 4 row strips 310 ft. long and replicated 5 times. We used our standard organic cultural practices and the field equipment we typically use. We planted the beans into good conditions and got excellent stand establishment. We cultivated the beans twice and hand rouged the trial strips for excellent weed control. We hosted a field day on September 2, 1994 at which we showed the trial, handed out information sheets on our overall organic cropping system and visited different fields at different stages in the rotation. 37 people signed a registration sheet at meal time.
We harvested the rail on October 10, 1994. (The enclosed summary sheet shows how we set up the strips, provides general cropping details, along with yield and quality results.) We market our organic soybeans through the Kansas Organic Producers. As we narrowed the range of seriously interested buyers and talked with these buyers about the quality issues in which they were most interested, we sent samples from the test strips along with the samples from other Kansas Organic Producer members to the Kansas Grain Inspection Laboratory for overall grade, protein and oil content. The grade issues have more to do with how clean the field is and setting harvesting equipment than it does with the variety. Some varieties do tend to split worse, though harvest timing is a factor with this.
[Editor’s note: There are some summary sheets that could not be posted online. If you would like to see these please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-529-1342. Thanks]
As the results show, the Norland variety (a Group II) did not perform as well as the others. Very dry weather throughout August seemed to significantly affect it. The Norland yield data is biased somewhat by the fact that it could have been harvested 2 to 3 weeks earlier, as it matured earlier, and it shatter some, though not at all bad. We couldn’t harvest it earlier because in doing so we would have damaged some of the adjacent rows. At planting the Norland seed was noticeably larger than the other varieties, but this factor did not show up in harvest. The dry weather effect may account for this. The other varieties all looked evenly good, stood well, didn’t shatter and, as the yield results show, yielded fairly evenly.
The largest share of the organic soybean market is in Japan. Buyers generally prefer a medium to large bean, high in protein and low in oil. Some buyers will take the largest beans first. Others, depending on the processing systems they use, want a medium to large bean but not the largest ones. Our buyer this year wants clear hilum beans with minimum protein of 37% on a dry basis, oil content at 18-26% on a dry basis (prefer oil closer to 18%), and 1700 to 3400 seeds per pound. Each of the clear hilum varieties in the trial met the seed size and protein criteria. The Reids had very good quality characteristics. Though the Reids yielded about 2 bushel/acre less than the top clear hilum variety (NK 42-32), quality differences make it a more marketable bean, particularly if the market develops a more abundant supply as some predict will eventually happen.
From this grant we learned that there are some early Group IV clear hilum varieties that perform well and meet quality standards for at least some of the organic market. We also learned that a randomized, replicated trial with careful measurements on yield and quality can reveal important factors and differences that would not be apparent by visual distinctions or approximate measurements alone. This trial helps us better select soybean varieties, resulting in more bean sales, either through higher yields or better quality. More than 20 soybean growers market through the Kansas Organic Producers. These members closely followed this trial and are well aware of the results. We have also shared results with farmers not participating in KOP marketing. Given the currently strong organic soybean market and the number of farmers who will use this information, the economic impact on these farms and their communities is quite significant. KOP had a very strong interest in this trial. By providing useful results and with various members helping in some way, this project reinforces for KOP members the benefits of cooperation.
The Kansa Rural Center and the Kansas Organic Producers reported on this trial in their newsletters, reaching about 2,000 people. There will be more reporting on it now with the quality results. The Kansas Soybean Association described the trial and announced the field day in their newsletter. The September 2, 1994 field day drew 37 people and occasioned much discussion among those attending. With the help of the Kansas Rural Center and Kansas Organic Producers, we announced the field day with press releases to about 35 papers and brochures mailed directly to about 200 farmers. The results of the trial have already been distributed to many KOP producers and will be included in future mailings to interested farmers and others. The seed companies whose varieties were in the trial were eager for the results and intend to use them, either with sales or in variety development. We will mail the enclosed chart summarizing the trail results to anyone interested in receiving it. Also, KOP may use it to show buyers some of the things members are doing for crop improvement.