Harvesting and Storage

Harvesting and storage of organic soybeans represent the final key areas of concern in garnering premium prices. The contract will dictate the desired seed size, moisture content, and cleanliness of the soybean harvest. Certain weed seeds, such as nightshade, can stain soybeans and must be weeded from fields prior to harvest. In general, organic farmers plan for one hour of hand-weeding, or walking, for every acre of soybeans.

It is imperative that separate combines are used for organic and conventional fields or combines undergo a thorough cleaning (a minimum of two hours) between conventional and organic fields. Iowa State University has a video describing the combine clean-out procedures (Combine Clean-Out Procedures for Identity-Preserved Grains, EDC-255).

If any GMO seeds are found in organic lots, the entire field can be rejected for organic certification. Certain specifications in combine settings must be followed in order to prevent any soil from contaminating the edible beans. Smooth plates, dual rotating screens, and slower speeds are used to avoid splitting seeds and lowering seed quality. Seed moisture also is a concern; seeds should be harvested at full size from 16-13 percent moisture to avoid cracking or shriveling in the case of immaturity.

Because soybeans may not be sent to market for periods ranging from one week to six months (depending on the buyer's scheduling), storage facilities are necessary. Again, separate storage facilities for conventional and organic crops are required. Proper seed moisture content should prevent the need for additional drying, but fans and drying facilities should be used to adjust for seasonal differences. Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be mixed in storage bins to prevent insect contamination. This substance is nontoxic to humans but damages the exoskeleton of insects and causes death. Moldy or "buggy" soybeans will be rejected.

Many buyers require a sample of soybeans prior to accepting a load. Soybeans will be screened

Harvesting and storing organic soybeans are important steps in collecting a premium price.

If any GMO seeds are found in organic lots, the entire field can be rejected for organic certification.

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based on size and will be tested for GMO contamination. Most buyers allow a certain percentage of "clean-out" (generally less than 15 percent). Screened beans (small sized or split seeds) can enter the organic livestock feed market. Stained beans either can enter the organic livestock market or be blended into other clean streams (if less than 3 percent are stained). The staining does not affect

Table 1

Comparison of Organic and Conventional Clear-Hilum Soybean Economic Analysis, Greenfield, 1998

Table 1

Comparison of Organic and Conventional Clear-Hilum Soybean Economic Analysis, Greenfield, 1998

Production Costs

(actual cost per acre)

Organic

Conventional

Moldboard plowing

$8.10

$8.10

Disking

4.00

4.00

Field cultivation (preplant)

4.00

4.00

Fertilization

0

0

Planting

9.00

9.00

Seed

31.60

22.00

Herbicide

0

10.38

Sprayer

0

2.50

Rotary hoeing (2x)

4.00

4.00

Row cultivating (2x)

7.00

7.00

Hand-weeding

14.00

14.00

Combining

21.00

21.00

Hauling grain to market

(FOB per contract)

3.00

Total cost per acre

$102.70

$108.98

Returns

$850.00 50 bu/A x $17.00/bu

$312.00 48 bu/A x $6.50/bu

Excluding price of land

Organic profit

368%

Table 2

Estimated Economic Analysis, Adjusting for On-Farm Costs in 1999

Production Costs

(per acre)

Organic

Conventional

Land

$100

$100

Certification fees

$15

0

1999 Total costs per acre

$217.70

$208.98

1999 Returns

$700 $14/bu x 50 bu/A

$300 $6/bu x 50 bu/A

1999 Profit/acre

$482.30

$91.02

the nutrition of the tofu or natto, but it can affect the texture and color.

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