Soybean farmers in 2007 can select from new Iowa State University soybean varieties that will promote the production of healthy oils for consumers.

"The new varieties are part of Iowa State's ongoing program to continually improve the yield and other agronomic traits that are important to farmers," said soybean breeder Walter Fehr, a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture."These improved varieties, developed with support from the Iowa Soybean Association and the United Soybean Board, will increase the production of oils desirable for human health."

Three of the new varieties will enhance the production of an oil with 1 percent linolenic acid. Low levels of linolenic acid in soybean oil increase its shelf life. Demand for the oil from the food industry has been high because of its excellent frying and flavor stability without the hydrogenation process that creates trans fats. Farmers who prefer production of varieties with the Roundup Ready(tm) trait will be able to choose from 12 new varieties that produce oil with 1 percent linolenic acid.

Production of low-saturated-fat soybean oil will get a yield boost with one of the new varieties. With only one gram of saturated fat per tablespoon, the oil matches the saturated fat content of canola oil and reduces by half the saturated fat found in traditional soybeans. Adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program, the oil has enjoyed continued success in food applications.

During the 2006 growing season, a soybean breeding team led by Fehr in Iowa State's agronomy department introduced a winning combination soybean line that contains twice the amount of oleic acid found in conventional soybean oil and only 1 percent linolenic acid. Oleic acid is the same monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil. Food industry tests last summer confirmed that the combination oil could be used in many food products that require more stability than previous unhydrogenated soybean oils could deliver.

"There were 34 companies that tested the new mid-oleic/1 percent linolenic oil," Fehr said. "The results were very positive. Twelve new varieties that produce this unique oil will be available for 2007."

Soybean producers who are interested in growing any of the improved 1 percent linolenic or low-saturated-fat varieties should contact the Iowa State University Research Foundation, 310 Lab of Mechanics, Ames, Iowa 50011-2131; phone (515) 294-4740; fax (515) 294-0778; e-mail

Source: Iowa State University