|Abstract or Summary
- Commercial production of soybeans in Oregon has been limited. In
1977, less than 1,500 acres were grown, primarily in the Columbia Basin
area. However, interest in soybeans as a possible "new crop" for Oregon
has arisen because of the (1) recent strong soybean price, (2) the high
cost of transporting soybean meal and oil to the Pacific Northwest,
(3) Oriental demand for soybeans, and (4) search for another crop alternative
for newly irrigated cropland.
The Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station has determined
that soybean production in Oregon is technically feasible. However,
information is lacking as to the economic feasibility of soybean production
The agronomic feasibility of soybean production in Oregon was first
reviewed. General agronomic requirements for soybean production were compared
with typical weather conditions and soils found in the major agricultural
centers of Oregon. It was concluded that the Ontario, Columbia
Basin, and Willamette Valley areas possess the greatest agronomic potential
for soybean production in Oregon.
The irrigated crops considered to be soybeans' primary competitors
were identified in each of the three regions. Typical costs and returns
were estimated for the competing crops based on 1976 costs of production
and normal yields and prices.
Cultural operations and input requirements for soybean production in
Oregon were based on what typically has been done in the major soybean
producing areas of the United States. Costs of producing soybeans were
then estimated based on the same assumptions used for the competing crops.
Soybean yields were based on Agricultural Experiment Station variety
trials and the experience of the limited number of commercial growers in
The yield, price, and cost data along with agronomically sound crop
rotations were analyzed using linear programming models for a typical farm
in each region. An estimate of the minimum price necessary for soybeans to
compete with the other crop alternatives was determined. The results indicated
that for the successful introduction of, soybeans the price per bushel
could be no lower than $11.22, $10.15, and $8.25 in the Willamette Valley,
Columbia Basin, and Ontario areas, respectively.
Four potential marketing alternatives which may exist for Oregon-grown
soybeans were identified: (1) exporting raw soybeans to Japan; (2) exporting
raw soybeans to other regions of the United States; (3) processing
soybeans at Portland to meet the Pacific Northwest demand for meal and oil;
and (4) processing soybeans at Portland and exporting meal and oil to other
regions of the United States. The alternatives were evaluated using the
Decatur base-point pricing scheme to determine the maximum Portland soybean
price that could be offered. The results indicate that the variability in
the maximum Portland price may range from $2.69 to $10.07 per bushel based
on data for the past six years. The lack of data and current experience
limited the evaluation of two other potential marketing alternatives:
(1) on-farm use of raw soybeans and (2) processing soybeans at Portland and
exporting meal and oil to Japan.
The economic feasibility of soybean production was analyzed by (1)
subtracting the average transportation costs to Portland from each of the
three areas from the maximum Portland soybean prices and (2) comparing the
results with the minimum price required for soybeans to successfully compete
with the alternate crops in each of the areas derived from the linear
Based on the assumptions and data used in this study, it was concluded
that soybean production in Oregon is not economically feasible at this time.
The minimum prices required by farmers to grow soybeans ranged from $0.65
to $3.36 per bushel higher than the average prices which would have been
offered over the past six years. Changes in energy costs for transportation,
irrigation pumping, and fertilizer production, as well as the development
of new, higher-yielding varieties suited to Oregon could improve the outlook
for soybean production.