We have had the "Year of Corn," "Year of Trees," "Year of Tomatoes," and "Year of Hogs."
Now we will be having the "Year of Soybeans." That is right; it was recently announced that the theme for the 2011 Indiana State Fair is "Year of Soybeans."
The most recently statistical data indicates that Indiana is ranked third nationally in soybean processing and fourth in production. Therefore, it is no surprise that soybean production in the state allows Hoosier farmers to contribute roughly $2.5 billion to the state's economy annually making soybeans an excellent commodity to celebrate at the 2011 state fair.
Like any great item that has survived the test of time to be so valuable to our society, the soybean has had a rough road to travel.
It is estimated that as early as 5,000 years ago, soybeans were grown in China. However, it wasn't until 1804 that soybeans arrived in the United States. They were brought to the U.S. on a Yankee clipper ship from China. Once the ship hit the shores of the U.S., the sailors dumped the soybeans and made room for their valued cargo. Then in 1829, U.S. farmers began to grow soybeans.
Many individuals know about George Washington Carver's studies on peanuts. It was in 1904, however, that he began his work with soybeans at the Tuskegee Institute. His research changed the way individuals looked at soybeans. Instead of only using them as a forage crop, they began to be valued as a source of protein and oil. Then during World War II, when imports of oil for cooking were cut off, U.S. residents turned to soybean oil, increasing the value in this homegrown commodity.
Who would have guessed that by 1940, the U.S. would become a net exporter of soybeans and soybean products. That was because farmers were harvesting roughly 78 million bushels that were planted on nearly five million acres. All of this occurred before Henry Ford demonstrated the durability of soybeans plastics, which further increased the popularity of soybeans. Ford demonstrated the durability of soybean plastics in 1940 by taking an ax to a car trunk that was made with soybean plastics.
Today, U.S. farmers are planting an average roughly 75-77 million acres of soybeans a year. That then in turn allows them to harvest around 3,000 million bushels of soybeans per year with approximately 43 percent of them being exported. Like all the commodities celebrated in recent years at the Indiana State Fair, the soybean has played a vital role in Indiana and throughout the country and world as the U.S. continues to be a net exporter.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Dec. 23-24 -- Extension Office closed, holiday, and
* Dec. 30-31 -- Extension Office closed, holiday.