Professor Scarecrow soybeans

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Vocabulary Quiz

soybean plants


One of the most versatile crops grown in North Carolina is the soybean. There are not different varieties of soybeans available for growing in North Carolina. To make sure that the growers have all the information and support that they need, most join an organization called the North Carolina Soybean Producers. This group represents all of the soybean growers and their interests in North Carolina.

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Soybeans originated in China. It was brought to the United States as ballastin marine vessels. Exact dates of when it arrived in America are uncertain, but the earliest references were dried soybeans that were used as "coffee" during the Civil War. Henry Ford, the founder of automobiles, once made a car body out of soybeans. When soybeans were first grown in North Carolina they were planted in the eastern coastal region.

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Soybeans are used in almost countless ways. Soybeans can be used in a natural form, as a protein, or be processed into items. Sometimes the oil is extracted from the soybean to be used in various items.

In a natural form, soybeans are either green (fresh) or dried. It is then processed into other edible products such as tofu, soysauce, roasted soybeans, soy milk, imitation bacon, etc. The oil that is taken from the bean is used in other foods such as salad dressings, cooking oils, margarines, mayonnaise and shortening. The oil is also used as a lubricant, a dust suppressant and as fuel. In a protein form, soybeans are used as a nutritional enhancement for humans or for animal feed. Soybeans are also used in various other products in a processed form such as tires, pharmaceuticcals, cosmetics, plastics, glue, paint and non-toxic crayons.

The uses for soybeans increases every year! Originally soybeans were used just as a highly nutritious food. Now, though still a healthy eating choice, soybeans numerous health benefits are only now being realized. Many other uses were discovered and developed as the years passed. New uses are still being found for this extraordinary commodity.

Better varieties of soybeans have increased over the years. This has helped the whole soybean industry keep up with its new products. Soybeans have gone from primarily feed and food uses to a wide variety of industrial and health uses. A growing population around the world and a greater demand for healthy meat products have led to the development of imitation meat products using soybeans. Plus with more people being health conscious and understanding healthy living, people have been eating more and more soybeans. Part of healthy living also means a healthy environment. This is why there has been an increase in the demand of soybeans for making such items as fuel, glue and ink. Products made from soybeans are more earth-friendly than those made of some man-made chemicals.

Bio-engineering is what scientists do to help create better varieties of soybeans. There has been some dramatic changes in bio-engineering to meet specific needs like a higher protein or oil content. If scientists can figure out a way of doing this, the soybeans will be able to stretch further because more products can be processed from the extra protein or oil. Future projects that people will want will change how the soybean industry is maintained.

Soybeans may be grown in all but one of the 100 counties of North Carolina. Dare County is the only county where soybeans are not grown. Most North Carolina soil can produce soybeans, but the proper pH must be maintained. Over 75% of soybeans are grown east of Interstate 95 in the coastal region of the state. The least abundant of soybeans are produced in the mountains. Soybeans are mainly grown on the Coast due to larger farms and adaptability.

Soybeans like warm weather and lots of sun. Soybeans need lots of sun and moderate amounts of rain. Soybeans can withstand dry weather better than many crops. The best temperature for soybeans is 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes their growing season of summer ideal.

Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate with the growers and they must take precautions against emergency weather conditions. Though these are few, proper irrigation is helpful especially during drought.

Soybeans are planted in late spring, early summer around May and June. It takes about one week for seeds to sprout. In North Carolina, soybeans are ready for harvest in five to six months.

Pesticides are used in the production of soybeans only if conditions warrant it! Pesticides are used to keep out unwanted items in the field. The most common pesticides used are herbicides to suppress weed comptition for the growing crops. Insecticides are used to kill insects only if they occur.

Soybean production involves special equipment during the whole process. During planting machines such as tractors, seed planters and sometimes fertilizer applicators are used. During harvest some equipment used are tractors, combines and trucks. Some farmers use computers to help in detecting soil deficiencies and/or problems and try to prevent them before they happen. Before modern technological developments such as tractors, farmers used to have horses, mules and wagons which helped out in the field.

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Once soybeans have been harvested, they are sold to grain dealers to to specialty markets. Sometimes soybeans are temporarily stored on the farm in large round metal grain bins before being sold. A grain dealer will buy the soybeans and turn around and sell it to a processor. The processor then turns the soybeans into products. Most of the time, the oil is extracted from the beans and the oil and remaining protein fiber is sold separately.

Either when the soybeans are sold to the grain dealer or at the processing plant, the soybeans must undergo inspection. The sale price of the soybeans is determined by the grade, moisture content, foreign matter and damage of the beans. The inspection is usually conducted by the grain dealer or employee of the processing plant. However, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has official grain graders at the two major processing plants in Raleigh and Fayetteville. The standards of the inspection are set by the United States Dept. of Agriculture and the Federal Grain Inspection Service. Grading is done by taking random samples from each truckload at the time of sale. These are then inspected and the whole truckload is graded the same as that particular sample.

When soybeans are sold by the producer, they are fully mature beans which are dried on the plant in the field. Fresh green soybeans are the exception which is a very small part of the soybean industry. Consumers may purchase soybeans in any of many processed forms, usually as oil or as an ingredient in many prepared foods.

Soybeans are sold in a wide variety of ways, most often as an ingredient. This is the same as any other part of the country. The difference is that North Carolina is among the top producers of pork and poultry. These industries are the major soybean protein users in North Carolina. Soybeans are exported both domestically and internationally. However, most soybeans grown in North Carolina remain here to supply the domestic swine and poultry industries here.

In 99% of the sales, soybeans are not packaged. Soybeans may be purchased in natural form, roasted or green. Products may be manufactured from soybean oil or protein; however, soybeans may be packaged in jars, bottles, bags, boxes or in bulk form as a feed ingredient. It is done this way because soybeans are processed in bulk so there is no need for packaging. The exception is that soybean oil products and small consumer products must be packaged for shipment, storage, display and use.

Soybeans are transported from the farm to the grain dealer and processor by truck. After processed into oil or protein fiber, they are most likely shipped by rail. Special transportation vehicles required would be clean tank cars for the train which are dedicated to only food transport. Methods of transportation have basically not changed through the years. Soybeans were not transported widely before the trucks and trains were around.

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Soybeans are required to have a label if they are used as an ingredient in a food product or a minimal protein guarantee for animal feed use. No specific label for just soybeans exist. United States law provides that foods processed for humans to eat are required to identify ingredients and the nutritional values of the product. So if a product such as imitation bacon had soybeans, it would be listed on the bacon's label.

Soybeans fall into the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nut group of the food pyramid. People should eat two to three serving per day at least from this group. Soybeans are a legume and are a meat alternative especially for vegetarian diets. Soybeans are also full of protein and calcium.

Keep in mind that soybeans are a healthy eating choice and to check some labels out to see if products you already eat have them. Soybeans are also used in a wide variety of products like tires, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. And remember Goodness Grows In North Carolina!!!

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1. versatile: having many uses
2. ballast: heavy material placed in a ship
3. domestically: when something happens within a particular nation;
Example: within the United States
4. pharmaceuticals: medicines, prescription drugs, etc.

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