Westside farmers dig soy's potential
GERVAIS, Ore. -- Gervais dairyman Stan Armstrong and Albany grass seed grower Terry Plagmann are giving soybeans a close look.
When Armstrong first started, he grew the beans for silage for his dairy cattle. Now he's hoping to market them for human consumption.
"(Soybeans) have a future for everyone (in the Willamette Valley)," Armstrong said. He said most growers target the more profitable food-grade or export market.
After starting with 7 acres in 2008, Armstrong is now up to 20 acres, many of those planted to new Oregon State University-bred, non-genetically modified cultivars more suitable for the valley.
Armstrong said he's had problems with Midwest soybean varieties lodging before harvest. The OSU varieties last year yielded more than the Midwest varieties.
He has no contracts and is now looking for a handler.
Should food-grade markets not materialize, Armstrong said he could probably come out just as well by silaging his beans and saving on cattle feed.
This year, Plagmann began tinkering with soybean cultivars from several different growing regions, including several OSU varieties.
"We're just shooting in the dark here. This is my first attempt, so I'm a long ways from knowing much about it," Plagmann said. He said most of the varieties he planted are fairly new.
Plagmann, who grows his soybeans on irrigated Santiam River bottomland, plans on selling his beans to Willamette Biomass Processors in Rickreall.
-- John Schmitz