German soybean production on upward trend

Around 104,000 metric tons of soybeans were harvested in Germany in 2021, according to the German Federal Statistical Office. This was the largest quantity ever.

After the cold spring had only allowed for a slow start to the growth period, growing conditions were nearly optimal in the summer and early autumn, as the amount of rain and heat was sufficient. This led to a boost in soybean yields for the 2021 harvest. Yields reached a record high at presumably 3.03 tons per hectare. Consequently, German farmers harvested a bumper crop of more than 100,000 tons in 2021, although the hectarage had barely been increased. This was just over three times more than six years earlier.

German soybean production has grown more than tenfold since 2012 due to a steady expansion in production area. The soybean area for the 2021 harvest amounted to 34,300 hectares, which was up 1.4 percent year-on-year. Also, yields were higher than average and showed enormous increases compared to the drought year 2020, especially in eastern Germany. More specifically, in Brandenburg they rose 65 percent over 2020. According to investigations conducted by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (mbH), Baden-Wuerttemberg, Lower Saxony and Hesse also recorded very large increases of 34 to 48 percent.

The Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen e. V. (UFOP) regards this positive trend in yields per hectare as evidence of successful breeding of soybeans. Soybeans are an increasingly interesting complementary crop to crop rotations, both in economic and ecological terms. However, in view of climate change and the need to develop climate-resilient crop rotation systems, this trend has to be expedited for all large-grained pulses, especially by providing a boost to push-funding for breeding work. From the perspective of UFOP, what is needed is a research and investment budget, analogous to that introduced to expand renewable energy. According to the association, there is a need for a sustainable funding environment also for research in crop breeding (similar to that for research in e-mobility) and it should be combined with measures to facilitate market access.

The UFOP expects the German Ministry of Agriculture to move up several gears under the new leadership in order to make an ecological bioeconomy strategy finally visible across the board. In this context, UFOP has drawn attention to the EU Commission’s and previous German government’s proposals and measures for deforestation-free procurement. The latter starts in the local field, the association has emphasized, making reference to projects initiated and carried out by UFOP in cooperation with scientific and plant breeding experts.

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