Soybean quality rises to the top

That's what Japanese buyers are looking for

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

HAWKEYE, Iowa -- Meeting; the Japanese tofu makers who use their soybeans will cause two northeast Iowa farmers to keep quality at the forefront as they combine beans this fall.

Farmers Dave Rausch of Fort Atkinson and Kevin Kleve of Waucoma got the chance to visit Japan in March with staff from Pattison Bros. in Fayette.


The farmers talked about their trip at the recent Value Added Grains producer meeting at Pattison's show and research plots near Hawkeye.

"The Japanese work hard and put in long hours,'' said Kleve. "They want your business but they also want your friendship.''

The Japanese want quality, Rausch said.

"They demand quality from their own people and they want the best quality from Pattison's, too,'' Rausch said. "We can provide that quality. When we're loading beans we have to think about whether we should be combining at 9 p.m. or whether we should park the combine until the next day. The Japanese want clean, shiny seed coats and little cracks.''

Kleve has been growing food-grade soybeans for about 20 years, and selling to Pattison's for the past four years.

"I'm looking for every niche I can,'' Kleve said. "Pattison's is a good company to work with.''

Rausch raises food-grade beans, high oil corn, and non-GMO corn and beans for Pattison's.

After meeting with the Japanese buyers of his beans, Rausch said he will likely work harder to keep his beans as clean as possible at harvest.


Pattison's conducts randomized replicated research trials looking for new non-GMO soybean varieties that may appeal to customers, said Tim Dillon, who heads up Pattison's product development and oversees the plot.

Research plots are harvested and traits such as oil, protein, hilum color and seed size are recorded. Dillon also keeps track of agronomic traits.

"We're looking for beans that our end-users want but they have to perform well agronomically and make farmers money or they won't grow them,'' Dillon said. "If beans perform successfully, they are sampled by end-users to see if they're something they're interested in.''

As a result of the research plot, Pattison has developed some of its own seed varieties. Some will be available next year.

This year Pattison's also has a research plot near Owatonna, Minn., and is cooperating with other seed and research companies on research.

"We'll have a lot of good data from multiple locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa,'' Dillon said. "We want data from where the beans will be grown.''

What To Read Next
Get Local