Soybean is one of the most healthy foods you can include in your diet. The legume is rich in proteins, all nine essential amino acids, optimum fiber content, omega-3 and 6, manganese, copper, peptides, and a spectrum of other nutrients. The ability to bring many health benefits to the users and its extraordinary flavors makes soy one of the most popular ingredients worldwide.
Presently soybean is the second most commonly cultivated crop in the USA, and this is due to the various applications of soy in human and animal foods. It is a rich source of plant-based protein, popularly consumed in several forms like soybean oil, soy milk, soy nuggets.
Many of us enjoy the delicious recipes with buttery texture prepared from store-bought soybeans. But you can, in fact, grow this incredible legume at home with ease to enjoy fresh and high-quality soybeans anytime you like. Here we will explore the basics for cultivating soybeans.
Choosing the right seeds is the first and one of the most critical steps for cultivating soybean as it will influence the potency of the harvest.
Seeds pretreated with chemicals such as insecticides will expose the soil and your plants to traces of these chemicals that could affect your yield's quality. Hence, explore organically certified soybean for the best results.
According to USSEC, there are over 10,000 different varieties of soybeans you can cultivate. Of them, green-seed cultivars offer the best flavors, as well as a tender texture that is most suitable for growing at home. Black varieties are appropriate for drying, whereas yellow seeded beans are ideal for preparing soy milk and flour. Make sure to choose a suitable variety for your growing conditions to ensure you have healthy plants.
Temperature and Light Settings
Soybeans are most suited for warm weather. They deliver the best yield in full sun and require about six to eight hours of sunlight every day. The plant is also a non-frost-tolerant variety that grows best as a summer season crop. Therefore, the spring season's beginning provides the ideal temperature and soil settings to support soybean cultivation.
Also, an average temperature of 70 degrees F during the seedling stage and an average annual rainfall of 60-65cm during the flowering season will be ideal to support the growth.
Soil and Nutrition Requirement
Soy plants are best suited to grow in loose, well-drained soil with an average pH of 6.0 to 6.8. The soil temperature needs to be around 55 – 60 degrees F to boost the yields.
The legume is known to capture nitrogen from the air and deliver it to the soil and is thus an efficient plant to use in crop rotation. You can cultivate soybeans with heavy feeders like peppers, corn, cucumber, or tomatoes that can effectively utilize the nitrogen absorbed by the legume. Make sure to mix decomposed compost or a balanced organic fertilizer into your soil before planting soybean to support healthy growth.
The best practice to follow while planting soybeans is to sow the seeds directly into the garden bed. Place them about 1 ½ inch deep and create narrow rows about 6 inches apart.
Ensure to maintain optimum moisture levels in the soil to support healthy growth. If you wish to have a continuous supply, consider sowing 10-12 days after the previous batch for best results.
Feeding And Watering
Beans require consistent watering, especially during the flowering and pod formation stages. Consider mulching as it helps to preserve soil moisture when the temperature rises.
You can support the plant with some organic compost midseason to encourage a good yield. Be careful not to disturb the shallow roots of the beans while cultivating around the plant.
Pests And Disease Control
Fortunately, soybeans are not prone to pest infestations. An efficient way to reduce pests' growth is to plant narrow rows of seeds to create a canopy of the plants. Keep an eye on your plants and immediately remove pests by hand before they spread.
Crop rotation can also be useful to reduce pests and diseases. It helps to break the cycle of garden pests while improving the quality of the soil. Avoid growing the beans in the same location for more than three years to reduce the risk of diseases.
Harvesting And Storing
Fresh use and shelling soybeans are usually ready for harvest about 45 to 65 days post sowing. The presence of bright green and plump pods, about 2 to 3 inches long, is the best indication of optimum maturity.
Dry beans will require about 100 days to reach the right maturity for harvest. You can pick the pods by hand from the plant or pull out the entire plant from the soil and then remove the pods.
Remember to harvest the pods before turning yellow, as it is an indication of overripening, which will compromise the quality and taste of soybeans.
You can refrigerate unshelled or green shelled soybeans for up to one week for use. Drying or canning is the best way to store shelled beans to extend their lifetime. You can store these dried beans in a cool and dry place for up to 12 months.
This growing guide will help you choose the right seeds, settings, resources, and tools to cultivate and harvest good quality soybean. You can prepare extraordinary delicacies with soy that can be a healthy vegan substitute for meat and a nutritious superfood to relish.