Poor Soybean Quality and Grain Inspection Questions

Carl Bradley and Chad Lee
Extension Plant Pathologist and Extension Agronomist, Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, University of Kentucky

We are receiving calls, texts, etc. regarding poor quality soybean seed. Some have asked about grain inspection options. Whether a farmer brings in an inspector or takes them to a grain buyer, the soybeans must be harvested to get a grade rating.

The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) outlines the official grain grades. Soybean grades are from highest to lowest: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4 and “sample grade”. Those official standards are linked here: https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/standards/810soybean.pdf

Damaged kernel guidelines include “badly weather-damaged, diseased,… mold-damaged, sprout-damaged, stinkbug-stung…” USDA GIPSA sets limits on specific types of damage for each grade. For example, soybeans of other colors between 5 to 10% result in a U.S. grade no. 4. Damaged kernels between 5 to 8% result in U.S. grade no. 4. Based on what we have seen from fields, we expect numerous loads of soybeans to be a grade no. 4, or below. We have heard reports of soybeans samples rated at 10% damage higher, which would put the soybeans at “sample grade.”  

According to USDA GIPSA, soybeans rated as “Sample Grade” do not meet the number grades or has a musty, sour, or commercially objectionable foreign odor (except garlic odor) or are heating or otherwise of distinctly low quality. Some samples we have observed have the musty or sour odor.  

Grain inspection agencies for Kentucky are at this USDA GIPSA website

There are four "official agency locations" for Kentucky:

J.W. Barton Grain Inspection Service, Inc.
720 Leitchfield Road
Owensboro, KY 42303-0180
Tel 270-683-0616
Fees: https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/svc_provid/oa-fee-schedules/Barton.pdf

 Cairo Grain Inspection Agency, Inc.
4007 Sycamore Street
Cairo, IL 62914-1037
Tel 618-734-0689
Fees: https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/svc_provid/oa-fee-schedules/Cairo.pdf

Ohio Valley Grain Inspection, Inc.
PO Box 6532
Evansville, IN 47720-0532
Tel 812-423-9010
Fees: https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/svc_provid/oa-fee-schedules/Ohio-Valley.pdf

Tri-State Grain Inspection Service, Inc.
3906 River Road
Cincinnati, OH 45204-1066
Tel 513-251-6571
Fees: https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/svc_provid/oa-fee-schedules/Tri-State.pdf

These four agencies essentially divide Kentucky into regions, but leave the southeast without an official inspection service. Farmers are encouraged to call one of these four to discuss fees and options. In addition, farmers should consult their insurance agents and crop adjusters on how to proceed. We encourage growers to keep all records and paperwork of any transactions.

SoybeanJennifer Elwell