Soybeans (Latin: Glycine max) are annual legumes of the family Fabaceae. The plant is cultivated for its edible beans which are useful in their fermented and unfermented state. The soybean plant is usually a tall bush with woody stems and alternately arranged leaves. It produces small flowers and seed pods. Each seed pod contains 1-5 seeds which vary in colour from yellow, green, brown, to black.
Soybeans require full sun for maximum yield. The plant prefers loose, well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter, however they are tolerant of poor soil. Soybeans grow best where the temperature averages between 15° and 20°C. Soybeans for fresh use are ready for harvest 45 to 65 days after sowing. Dry soybeans require 100 or more days to reach harvest.
Soybeans originated in Southeast Asia and were first domesticated by Chinese farmers. In the early 1900s, the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company produced two new products: unrefined soybean oil and soybean meal. Today, soybeans are one of the biggest crops by acreage. Its popularity is due to the high fat and protein content of soybeans. It is also the most important protein source for farm animal feed.
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