Inconsistencies in soybean grading last year led the Mississippi’s soybean industry to take steps to educate producers and grain elevator staff on how to determine the kind and amount of damage soybeans have.

Industry supporters developed the Mississippi Soybean Producer’s Field Guide to Soybean Damage as a handy, pocket reference for producers. They also held four grading clinics where they gave grain elevator operators a half-day refresher course in soybean grading.

These educational tools were funded and organized by a group effort. Supporters were Mississippi Farm Bureau, the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Delta Council and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

Trey Koger, Extension soybean specialist, said the field guide was designed for use by anyone involved in Mississippi’s soybean industry.

“Growers may benefit the most from the guide because it displays color pictures of the most common types of factors resulting in damage to our soybean crop on an annual basis,” Koger said.

After harvest, soybeans are trucked to grain elevators where they are graded for quality, and a per-bushel price is paid based on the grade the soybeans are given. Prices paid for soybeans that are graded as damaged are docked at the elevators, and producers receive a reduced amount for these soybeans.

The field guide displays a chart showing the requirements for the four soybean grades. The remaining pages of the hardback, notebook-style field guide lists nine types of damage with photos and written descriptions. Anyone using the field guide can find information on and pictures of weather, heat, mold, stinkbug or fungus damage along with a brief description of the damage.

“This is not new information to the producers, but no one has ever developed a guide that shows the common types of damage to soybeans and pictures of the different types of damage,” Koger said. “I don’t think the guide will alter the way we grow or manage our soybean crop, but it will allow the producers to see the types of damage that hurts our soybean crop every year so they hopefully will have a little better understanding of what is actually causing damage and dockage at the elevators.”

Paul Chamblee, regional manager and commodity coordinator with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, said the field guide was necessary so producers will understand the grading process used by elevators.

“When producers take in a load of beans, they can look at the field guide and determine if they think the grade their beans were given is correct or not,” Chamblee said.

In conjunction with the field guide, the industry group funded grading clinics held in late July and early August in Vicksburg, Tunica, Stoneville and Verona, Miss. The day-long clinics brought in grain elevator operators for a morning grain grading class, for which they got a certificate of completion.

After lunch, producers and field representatives for chemical and seed companies were invited to join the gathering to hear how grain is graded and the appeal process in place for producers who feel their grain was not graded correctly. Chamblee said 110 elevator employees and 90 farmers took advantage of the grading clinics.

“Last year we heard stories of farmers taking a load of grain to one elevator and being turned down for quality reasons, then driving that same load to another elevators and it getting taken,” Chamblee said. “There were inconsistencies in how the grain was graded, and we’re trying to cut down on these inconsistencies with the clinics and this book.”

Contact the local Extension Service office for a free copy of this field guide or view it online at http://msucares.com/crops/soybeans/fieldguidedamage.pdf.

A copy can be downloaded at Mississippi Soybean Producer’s Field Guide to Soybean Damage.