This impressive plant, grown by US farmers last year, supplied 37% of the world’s soybean trade.
I was on assignment last Friday in search of crop insects that try to destroy these green miracles. The UofM Field Extension had a tour and study discussion of soybean bug battles. Luckily for me both the elusive nematodes and soybean aphids were ready for their close-ups. They are extremely small and destructive.
These healthy soy pods were shot in Lamberton, MN. This was my final photo of the day. I’m including this Soybean Top Ten Facts list.
Soybeans: The Miracle Crop
The soybean is often called the miracle crop. During the summer, soybeans flower and produce 60-80 pods, each holding three pea-sized beans. A 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields about 48 pounds of protein-rich meal and 11 pounds of oil.
Top Ten Facts About Soybeans: University of Arkansas – Extension Service
More soybeans are grown in the United States than anywhere else in the world.
As early as 5,000 years ago, farmers in China grew soybeans.
In 1804, a Yankee clipper ship brought soybeans to the U.S. When leaving China, sailors loaded the ship with soybeans as an inexpensive ballast. When they arrived in the U.S. they dumped the soybeans to make room for cargo.
In 1829, U.S. farmers first grew soybeans. They raised a variety for soy sauce.
During the Civil War, soldiers used soybeans as “coffee berries” to brew “coffee” when real coffee was scarce.
In the late 1800s significant numbers of farmers began to grow soybeans as a forage for cattle.
In 1904, at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama., George Washington Carver began studying the soybean. His discoveries changed the way people thought about the soybean; no longer was it just a forage crop. Now its beans provided valuable protein and oil.
By 1929, U.S. soybean production had grown to 9 million bushels. That year, soybean pioneer William J. “Bill” Morse left on a two-year odyssey to China during which he gathered more than 10,000 soybean varieties for U.S. researchers to study.
By 1940, the U.S. soybean crop had grown to 78 million bushels harvested on 5 million acres, and the United States was a net exporter of soybeans and soybean products. That year, Henry Ford took an ax to a car trunk made with soybean plastic to demonstrate its durability. The publicity increased the soybean’s popularity.
Today, farmers across the U.S. grow soybeans that have been harvested into yields of about 2 billion bushes a year.