Soybeans are almost worthless until the oil is separated from the solids. The process of doing that is called “crushing”. The “soybean crush” refers to how many bushels were crushed into meal and oil, usually in a given month. The crush quantity is tracked by NOPA, USDA and the Census Bureau.
The “soybean crush margin” is the value of the oil and meal extracted from a bushel of beans minus the cost of a bushel of beans. It does not take into account the processor expense of the crush.
Typically, a bushel of soybeans will yield 11.1 to 11.6 pounds of oil and 44 to 47 pounds of meal. The oil content of beans will be significantly higher in dry years.
Gross Processing Margin (GPM) is what the highly educated people call the soybean crush margin. Obviously, the demand for soybeans is directly related to the crush margin and that is directly related to the demand for bean oil and bean meal. It is rare when the value of the oil is worth more than the meal extracted from a bushels of soybeans, but it does happen.
Soybeans used to be crushed mechanically by literally pressing the oil out of the soybeans. Technology has rendered this process obsolete. Soybeans are now “crushed” with a solvent extraction method.
If you grow soybeans, you really need to keep weekly tabs on the soybean crush margin. You can do that at:
On 27 May 2021, the soybean crush margin was $2.91 compared to $2.69 the previous week, $1.29 the same week in 2020. Big difference!