Thursday, October 24

Soybean harvest

It's harvest time!  Here in north central IL, the soybeans and corn have reached their maximum growing time and the weather has cooperated so farmers are busy bring in their crops.  Believe it or not, but the simple little soybean probably affects your life on a daily basis.  I thought it might be interesting and informative for you to see the product from beginning to end.  So much of a farmers life depends on the weather and they certainly have no control over that.  Crops can't be planted until the fields are dry enough so that their huge tractors don't become stuck in the field.  As happened this year, after the crops were planted, we had a large amount of rain and many acres needed to be replanted because of flooding. Once planted, usually there is a time during the growing period that fertilizer is added to the soil.  The typical growing period is about 5 months from planting to harvest and the average acre will produce 40-50 bushels of soybeans.

When I see crops growing I always zone in on the amount of weeds in the field.  Maybe it's my slightly obsessive-compulsive personality?  Have no clue but its what grabs my attention.  We have a man who farms our acreage who has super clean fields -- no weeds in sight!  Soybeans grow to be about 24-36" in height and are planted very close together.  The beans grow in pods and each pod contains 2, 3 or 4 beans.  The pod feels furry when you touch it and it seems to me that the deer don't bother to eat them.

As the beans grow, the leaves and seed pods turn from green to gold and then as the leaves dry and die, the pods are left on the stalk and are ready for harvest.  As the beans are picked, the seeds are extracted from the pod and then stored to dry until they are taken to be sold.

Soy is becoming more popular all the time and the uses are increasing rapidly because of the ease in growing this crop.  We are all familiar with soy sauce, soy milk, tofu and soy baby formula but now there are soy candles, biodiesel, crayons, hydraulic fluid to name a few.  They are also used for livestock feed.  Not to mention they are a great source of protein and cholesterol free.  Works for me!

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