Management of Pioneer® brand Plenish® High Oleic Soybean
Crop Insights by Steve Butzen, DuPont Pioneer Agronomy Consultant
- Pioneer® brand Plenish® high oleic soybean developed by DuPont Pioneer is a key product innovation with the potential to take back soybean markets lost to alternative edible oils.
- Plenish high oleic soybean varieties have demonstrated yields and agronomics comparable to commodity soybean varieties in five years of wide-scale field testing.
- Extensive testing has shown that Plenish high oleic soybeans maintain a stable fatty acid profile across a range of environments even with significant weather stress.
- Plenish high oleic soybean varieties were found to perform similarly to comparative soybean varieties when planted over a wide range of dates in both full-season and double-crop systems.
- Selected Plenish high oleic soybean varieties responded to high-yield practices with a 16.1 bu/acre yield increase and oleic acid profiles similar to the non-treated check.
- Plenish high oleic soybean varieties responded similarly to commodity soybean varieties when treated with herbicides or when manganese was applied. Oleic acid levels were similar across treatments.
Soybean oil is by far the most widely used edible oil in the United States (Figure 1). However, in the last decade, soybean oil has lost market share to other oils due to the transition away from partially hydrogenated oils, which are the primary dietary source of trans-fats, by the food industry. Commodity soybean oil requires a hydrogenation process to gain the stability and functionality necessary for many food applications, and this process elevates the trans-fat content of the oil. Consequently, about 12 million acres of soybean oil market share has been lost to substitutes, such as palm and canola oil, that are naturally more stable than commodity soy oil.
Figure 1. U.S. edible vegetable oil consumption, 2015*. Source: Economic Research Service, USDA. *Total usage: 34,699 million lbs (15.7 million metric tons).
Plenish high oleic soybeans developed by DuPont Pioneer are a key product innovation with the potential to take back markets lost to alternative edible oils. The oil from Plenish high oleic soybeans has a fatty acid profile similar to olive oil, with an abundance of heart-healthy monounsaturated oleic acid and a 20% reduction in saturated fats compared to traditional soybeans. Because of the high oleic acid content (approximately 75 percent) and low amount of polyunsaturated fats (typically less than 10 percent) the oil is extremely heat stable, resisting oxidative breakdown and reducing polymer formation. These desirable attributes make the oil ideal for deep frying and improve its shelf life in packaged food products. These same attributes are beneficial in industrial applications that require high heat and oxidative stability.
Plenish® high oleic soybeans were made using the simple approach of suppressing an enzyme in the oil biosynthetic pathway to modify the overall composition of the oil. This enzyme, omega 6 desaturase, ordinarily carries out the reaction of converting oleic acid to linoleic acid. By suppressing this enzyme through insertion of a soy-based gene, production of linoleic acid is greatly reduced and oleic acid accumulates in the oil. Directing enzyme suppression to the seed only, such that other plant parts are not affected, further enhances the outcome of this approach.
Plenish high oleic soybeans have been well-received by the industry, resulting in a doubling of acreage in each of the last few years. This rate of growth is expected to continue as large scale end users are able to convert their formulations as a result of the increased supply. The United Soybean Board and the industry estimate the long-term market potential for high oleic soybeans is 15 to 20 million acres. If realized, this would be the fourth largest row crop in the U.S. and would represent 40 to 50% of U.S. soybean crush capacity.
As the number of growers and acres increases, more farmers can benefit from improved management practices associated with this new product. Primarily, growers may be interested in how traditional soybean management practices apply to Plenish high oleic soybeans. This Crop Insights discusses recent research results and the similarities or differences compared to managing commodity soybeans.
Yield of Plenish® High Oleic Soybean Varieties vs. Commodity Soybean Varieties
Plenish high oleic soybean varieties are developed using Pioneer elite germplasm and cutting-edge breeding and development technologies. Plenish high oleic soybean varieties have demonstrated yields on par with Pioneer® brand elite soybean varieties in five years of extensive field testing that included over 700 observations (Figures 2-4). Only products that have demonstrated yield parity or better and composition specifications within industry norms are brought to market.
Figure 2. Yield of Plenish high oleic soybean varieties compared to Pioneer brand elite soybean varieties by year. Source: DuPont Pioneer research plot yield data, 723 observations in Indiana and Ohio.
These products could stand on their own for their yield and agronomic performance even without a premium payment, and that will continue to be the benchmark for commercial release going forward.
Figure 3. Yield of Plenish high oleic soybean varieties and Pioneer brand elite soybean varieties. Source: DuPont Pioneer research plot yield data, 723 observations in Indiana and Ohio, 2011 to 2015, averaged across years.
Figure 4. Yield of Plenish high oleic varieties and Pioneer brand elite varieties. Source: DuPont Pioneer yield data – 277 observations across 26 research and IMPACT™ yield trial locations in Ohio and Indiana in 2015.
Agronomics of Plenish High Oleic Soybean Varieties
The current lineup of Pioneer brand Plenish high oleic soybean varieties has the key agronomic and defensive traits needed by growers across a wide range of environments, including resistance to soybean cyst nematode, Phytophthora and sudden death syndrome. Traits included in Plenish high oleic soybean varieties available for 2017 include SCN resistance, Phytophthora resistance, and a wider range of maturities (early group II to early group IV).
Stability of Oleic Acid Content
End users require consistent quality in the oil produced from Plenish high oleic soybeans. Extensive testing has shown that Plenish high oleic soybeans demonstrate a stable fatty acid profile across a range of environments even with significant weather stress (Table 1).
Table 1. Percent fatty acid content of Plenish® high oleic soybeans grown in multiple environments in 3 states (Source: Eurofins GC analysis on whole soybeans).
Planting Date Effects on Yield and Oil Profile
A study was conducted in cooperation with the University of Maryland to determine how Plenish high oleic soybean varieties perform across a wide array of soybean cropping systems encompassing early and late planting dates (Kratochvil et al., 2016). Pioneer brand Plenish high oleic soybean and comparative soybean varieties were planted over a range of dates considered normal for full-season and double-crop soybean production in the Delmarva area.
Results showed that for both Plenish high oleic soybean and comparative soybean varieties,
- Growing environment (location and year) had a significant influence on soybean yield potential; average yield in 2014 was significantly lower than 2013 or 2015.
- Late May plantings had the highest yield in all three years of the trial. There was no difference between early and mid-June plantings, which suggests an opportunity to achieve competitive soybean yields with timely planting in a double-crop system (e.g., after barley harvest in June). The Mid-July date had the lowest yield of all dates, except for similar yield with late June planting in 2013.
- There was an incremental increase in yield with later- maturing soybean varieties as planting was delayed. Thus, it is recommended to plant later-maturing soybeans (maturity group IV or greater in this area) when planting after the end of June to avoid late summer heat and drought risks, especially in dryland environments.
- There was no significant difference in yield among varieties when averaged across planting dates and years.
Among Plenish high oleic soybean varieties, oleic acid levels trended slightly lower as planting was delayed, however 70 to 80% levels were maintained among all planting dates and years. The earlier maturing Plenish high oleic soybean varieties tested in this trial performed well in late May and June plantings. Newer, later maturing Plenish high oleic soybean varieties available for 2017 are better suited for July planting dates in the mid-Atlantic Region.
Intensive Management Effects on Yield and Oil Profile
Trials were conducted at two University of Maryland locations to evaluate the response of selected Plenish high oleic soybean varieties to intensive vs. conventional management (McCullum and Reese, 2013). The objective was to evaluate management effects on grain yield and oleic acid profiles in a new contract area.
- No treatments or irrigation
- Drip irrigation
- Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment offering
- Fungicide and insecticide applied at R3 stage
Soybean grain yield was significantly affected by management, with a 16.1 bu/acre advantage for the intensive management system (Figure 5).
Figure 5. Yield of Plenish high oleic soybean varieties under intensive and conventional management practices at Queenstown, Maryland.
Results also indicated that oleic acid profiles remained constant regardless of management practices (Figure 6). Intensive management also resulted in larger seed size and a reduction in purple seed stain (data not shown).
Figure 6. Oleic acid content of Plenish® high oleic soybean varieties under intensive and conventional management practices at Queenstown, Maryland.
Herbicide Effects on Crop Response and Oil Profile
Tests were conducted in Michigan of Plenish high oleic soybean varieties against key commercial checks to:
- evaluate the effects of different weed control practices on soybean fatty acid (oil) profiles, and
- evaluate early season crop injury from herbicide treatments on Plenish high oleic soybean varieties.
In these studies, no herbicide injury was observed with any variety or weed control program (Sprague and Zuver, 2012). Oil profiles were consistent across weed control programs for both Plenish high oleic soybeans and elite soybean varieties.
Effect of Manganese (Mn) on Yield and Oil Profile
A study was conducted in Ohio to determine if Mn application affected the grain yield and concentration of oleic acid, oil, and protein in Plenish high oleic soybeans and comparative soybean varieties. Results showed that both Plenish high oleic soybeans and other soybean varieties had significantly lower grain yield when the leaf Mn level was less than 21 ppm. However, results also indicated that the Mn level did not affect the oil profile, oil content, or protein concentration of varieties. Thus, when deficiency is detected, soybean growers should apply Mn fertilizer to both Plenish high oleic soybeans and comparative soybean varieties to obtain higher yields.
Plenish high oleic soybeans have been genetically modified to improve the fatty acid profile of the oil. Plenish high oleic soybeans also contain a transgene conferring glyphosate resistance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its review of Plenish high oleic soybeans in January 2009 and concluded that they are not materially different in terms of food safety from other soybean varieties on the market. Deregulation is also completed in major export markets representing over 90% of U.S. soy exports. Only the European Union (EU) has yet to complete the approval process, which is expected in early 2017 (both the high-oleic and glyphosate-resistant traits are approved individually, and the European Food Safety Authority–GMO Panel has delivered a positive safety opinion on the stack, but adoption of the panel’s recommendation by the European Commission is still forthcoming).
Growing and Marketing Plenish High Oleic Soybeans
Plenish high oleic soybeans are grown in a closed loop system. Farmers must have a contract with a licensed Plenish high oleic soybean buyer before they can receive seed beans from a Pioneer sales representative. The Plenish high oleic soybeans must be grown in an identity-preserved manner (including planter and combine clean out, segregated storage bin, etc.) and delivered only to the contract processor. The processor/refiner also implements an identity-preserved process to maintain the oil's purity and high oleic content, which is essential to downstream end-users in both food and industrial applications. Farmers are paid a per-bushel incentive to produce Plenish high oleic soybeans under this system.
As more varieties are developed with traits and maturities needed across all soybean growing areas, production opportunities will expand for an increasing number of farmers. Contact your Pioneer sales professional to determine if contract opportunities are available in your area.
Kratochvil, R., K. Reese, W. McCollum. 2016. Soybean Planting Date and Maturity Effects on Yield and Oleic Acid Profiles in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Field Facts 16:15. DuPont Pioneer. Johnston, IA.
McCollum, W. and K. Reese. 2013. Response of Pioneer® Brand Plenish® High Oleic Soybean Varieties to Intensive Management. Research Update. DuPont Pioneer. Johnston, IA.
Sprague, C. and K. Zuver. 2012. Management Practices for Pioneer® Brand Soybeans with the Plenish® Trait. Research Update. DuPont Pioneer. Johnston, IA.