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Commodities Trading - Trading Soybean

Sep 7, 2007
With perhaps the exceptions of resident vegetarians and commodities traders, soybeans don't have much allure for the general population. However, this bean is one of the most profitable trades commodities around, and it is also low risk.

The Chinese people first cultivated soybeans thousands of years ago. They continue to be grown there today. They were first introduced to America in the 1800s; their load was used to stabilize clipper ships. Now, their use as a food source continues to grow as technology advances and new uses are discovered.

During World War II, the US became one of the world's largest suppliers when Chinese crops were damaged. Today, 31 states in the United States grow soybeans. Illinois alone produces over 500 million bushels, with Iowa coming in close behind at 400 million.

Now, Brazil is jumping into the fray as a producer as well. Although it has suffered drought and this has impacted its production over the last two years, crop yields are now recovering. They should reach record levels in 2007. Although coffee and sugar are among Brazil's major exports, soybeans are fast catching up. In 2004-2005, over 20,000 metric tons of soybeans were exported from Brazil. This is two thirds of the US's total exportation of soybeans.

As this has occurred, demand continues to grow. Among the biggest consumers of soybeans are American livestock, including chickens and cattle, as well as pigs. These animals alone consume over 25 million tons of soybean meal per year. And of course, the rapidly growing soybean-based foods market, which boasts everything from soy ice cream to soy imitation "meat" and beyond, is also a major factor in US consumption.

Given these factors and others as well, demand is expected to continue to rise as time goes on. For one thing, population levels throughout the world continue to grow. The US's current population is almost 300 million and still going up. World population is over 6.5 billion; although the population increase is slowing, overall increase is expected to continue for several decades or better.

As demand continues to grow, so, too, does research and development on this marketable and remarkable little bean. Researchers continue to find new ways to increase production and cultivation. For example, about 1.4 billion hectares were used to cultivate crops worldwide in 1961. Less than 40 years later, in 1998, 1.5 billion hectares were used, yet don't be fooled by the small increase. In fact, double the volume of soybeans was grown in 1998 as was grown in 1961. Therefore, productivity has roughly doubled over those 40 years, and advances continue.

With improvements in genetics research, researchers can now offer and implement genetic techniques that help crops resist disease. By 2005, herbicide-tolerant crops were produced through genetically modified crop production for 87% of total crops. By contrast, just two years earlier, that figure was 63%.

One bane of the soybeans existence, rust, continues to be a problem. However, this is expected to be eradicated in the coming years.

Besides food production and livestock feed, soybeans are also used to make biodiesel fuel in the United States; Europe still uses canola oil. Corn produces ethanol. As gasoline prices continue to rise, the pressure is on to convert more vehicles, including large consumers like farm equipment, to diesel fuel and therefore biodiesel fuel.

For the soybean, futures contracts are traded on the Chicago Board of Exchange, or CBOT. The standard contract covers 500 bushels, with the tick, or minimum price fluctuation, at one quarter of one cent per bushel. It has a maximum price fluctuation of $.50 per bushel above or below the settlement price from the previous day.

So if you're interested in commodities trading, look into soybeans. Although not as glamorous as gold or coffee, for example, this immutable little bean nonetheless is a gold mine of its own.
About the Author
Visit 123OnlineTrading.com - Commodities, Stocks, Forex to find books, tips and advice about online commodity trading . Besides a large selection of free educational articles you can also find powerful books about online trading in general.

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123OnlineCommodityTrading.com - Commodity Trading Links
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