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The soybean (US) or soya bean (UK) (Glycine max) is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses. The plant is classed as an oilseed rather than a pulse. Fat-free (defatted soybean meal is a significant and cheap source of protein for animal feed and many pre- packaged meals; soy vegetable oil is another product of processing the soybean crop. Soy varies in growth and habit. The height of the plant varies from less than 0.2 to 2.0 m (0.66 to 6.6 ft). Soybean occurs in various sizes, and in many hull or seed coat colors, including black, brown, blue, yellow, green and mottled. The hull of the mature bean is hard, water-resistant, and protects the cotyledon and hypocotyl (or "germ") from damage. If the seed coat is cracked, the seed will not germinate. The scar, visible on the seed coat, is called the hilum (colors include black, brown, buff, gray and yellow)and at one end of the hilum is the micropyle, or small opening in the seed coat which can allow the absorption of water for sprouting. Madhya Pradesh is the leading state followed by Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Chattisgargh. its total production in India is 12.98 million tonnes.

Popular Varieties:

In India, some of popular varieties of soybean are JS 335, MACS-124, JS-80-21, indira Soya-9 etc. A collection of over 10,000 accessions of soybean seeds is maintained by the USDA. India also released many varieties of soybean. It depends upon the seed size, shatter, lodge, flower color, pubescence color, pod wall color and helium color. This USDA collection represents the diversity of soybean germplasm including seeds of every color and description including red, green, black, brown, speckled, streaked, large, and small. Most of soybean varieties grown commercially today are yellow-seeded field varieties used for animal feed and oil production (for food processing and industrial uses).Other varieties can be obtained for special uses: forage and hay (with an abundance of stems and leaves) and human food (large-seeded, various colored varieties).

Maturity Indices

When seeds are mature (filled), the moisture content is 45 to 55% and the pods and stems of the plant are yellow or brown. The mature seed is completely yellow. Some soybean varieties vary in color and may include black, purple, brown, tan, or mottled coloration. As soybean seeds lose moisture, they change from large, kidney bean shaped to a smaller and nearly round shape. When dry, the seed contains about 38% protein, 18% oil, 15% soluble carbohydrates, 15% insoluble carbohydrates and 14% moisture/ash/other.

Harvesting Time

The season of harvesting of Soybean depends on the time of sowing and the variety grown such as short duration or long duration.

  • Generally, Kharif Soybean is harvested during the period October – November and Rabi crops harvested in the month of January – February.
  • The harvesting losses depend upon the time of harvest and the variety grown.
  • In some varieties, the shattering is more. Losses in the field also occur due to untimely harvest, poor agricultural operations, careless handling, natural calamities like heavy rainfall, hailstorm, birds, rodents, etc,.
  • These losses of Soybean in the field are estimated to be 1 to 2 percent in normal cases.

Storage & Packaging

  • Harvesting done by local sickle is the traditional practice followed by farmers.
  • However, modified serrated blade sickles are recommended, as plant stem is 8 to 12 mm thick.
  • The crop is usually stored in gunny bags. The filled bags are stacked above wooden planks and gunny bags or paddy straw is spread over the floor to avoid dampness.
  • The big farmers normally have pucca-floored houses, where the Soybean is stored.
  • Traders, commission agents and brokers usually have their own godown facilities. They keep the soybean in bags in their own godowns in packed condition.
  • The processing units are the main agencies who stock Soybean for a longer period. They purchase and stock Soybean to meet the requirements for the whole year.
  • Generally soybean is not stored in loose form. The bags are stored in the godowns, which have cemented floors.
  • Aerate stored soybeans to maintain grain temperature at 35°-40°F in winter and 40°-60°F in summer. These temperatures reduce mold and insect activity.
  • Soybeans can be packed and stored in bags for further utilization.
  • Generally, this storage system is used for short-term storage.
  • The bags can be stacked outdoors on concrete platforms protected from bad weather and against termite and rodent attacks.
  • They can also be placed on wooden platforms inside storehouses or warehouses.
  • Packaging is done in bags made of fibres (jute or cotton) or plastic.

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