How to Grow Soybeans: Key Points You Should Know

If there were a metaphorical pantheon of crops that have shaped human civilization, soybeans would undeniably earn a prime position. Unpretentious yet versatile, these small, round legumes have surged from their ancient origins in East Asia to conquer fields around the globe, becoming a cornerstone of modern agriculture and a key player in our food system. Yet for all their global importance, growing soybeans remains an art form that balances careful cultivation, understanding the nuances of the land, and harnessing cutting-edge agricultural practices.

Whether you’re an established farmer looking to diversify your crop rotations or a green-thumbed enthusiast curious about growing your protein-packed produce, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to successfully cultivate this remarkable crop.

How To Grow Soybeans

Agricultural wisdom often comes from generations of hands-on experience, combined with an understanding of the ever-evolving scientific insights into plant growth and development.
Successful soybean cultivation is no different, requiring a nuanced approach tailored to the unique characteristics of these versatile legumes.

Here are the most useful tips on growing soybeans:

  • Soil Prep. Soybeans prefer well-drained, loamy soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. It’s beneficial to prepare the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to provide the nutrients these legumes need.
  • Crop Rotation. Practice rotating your soybeans with other crops like corn or wheat. This helps to reduce the build-up of diseases and pests and can also improve soil fertility.
  • Timing. Plant soybeans in spring, after the danger of frost has passed. They require a full growing season and should be harvested in late summer or early fall.
  • Temperature. How do soybeans grow? Soybeans are a warm-weather crop, thriving in temperatures between 60°F (15.5°C) and 85°F (29.4°C). Seed germination occurs optimally at soil temperatures of 77°F (25°C). Frost can kill young soybean plants, so ensure you plant your seeds after the last frost of spring.
  •  Planting and spacing. Where are soybeans grown? Soybeans love full sun and should be planted in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. They also require a well-draining spot as standing water can quickly lead to root rot and other diseases. Avoid planting them in low spots where water may accumulate.
    Soybeans should be planted approximately 1.5 inches deep in the soil, although this can vary slightly depending on soil type – sandy soils may require slightly deeper planting, while clay soils may require less. Rows should be spaced about 2 to 3 feet apart to allow for air circulation and ease of maintenance. Within the row, space your soybeans about 2
    to 4 inches apart. By understanding the unique needs of soybeans and adapting your practices to meet them, you can optimize your crop’s health, productivity, and ultimately, your harvest. No matter the size of your operation, growing soybeans can be a rewarding endeavor that contributes to a sustainable and productive agricultural system.

Soybeans Care Tips

Here are some of the top tips that will help you care for your soybean field:

  • Watering: Soybeans require regular watering, but overwatering can be detrimental.
    Generally, an inch of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental irrigation, is
    adequate. However, during pod formation and filling, which is a critical growth stage, they may require up to twice that amount. Always allow the soil to dry between watering to prevent waterlogged conditions.
  • Fertilizing: While soybeans can fix their nitrogen from the atmosphere, they may still benefit from supplemental fertilization. Applying a balanced granular or liquid fertilizer at planting time can give young plants a good start. Consider a soil test to determine nutrient deficiencies and then fertilize accordingly.
  • Weed Control: As they establish, soybeans can be susceptible to weed competition. Keep your fields or garden free from weeds through manual removal or the use of cover crops. Once the plants have established a dense canopy, they’re effective at suppressing weed growth themselves.
  • Pest and Disease Management: Soybeans can be attacked by various pests and diseases, such as aphids or soybean cyst nematodes. Regular monitoring of the field can help identify problems early, and integrated pest management strategies can help control these issues. Good crop rotation practices can also minimize disease risks.

Harvesting Soybeans

Successfully harvesting soybeans is both an art and a science. It requires close attention to the crop’s maturity, the weather, and proper handling to ensure optimal yield and quality. Here’s the essential information you need to know. Timing is crucial. The right time to harvest soybeans is when they reach maturity at around 13-15% moisture content. An easy way to check this is to observe the pod and seed color; they
will change from green to yellow to brown. The leaves will also drop off. If you shake the plant and hear a rattling sound, this often indicates the seeds are dry and ready for harvest. It is crucial not to delay the harvest as overripe soybeans can shatter and drop to the ground.

Soybeans are typically harvested using a combine harvester, which reaps, threshes, and winnows the crop in one operation. For smaller garden plots, you may harvest by pulling up the entire plant or picking the individual pods. Always handle the plants gently to prevent damaging the beans.

Growing Soybeans with EOSDA Crop Monitoring

Although soybeans growing is usually fairly simple, sometimes even the most experienced farmer can encounter issues. Luckily, there are online platforms like EOSDA Crop Monitoring
designed specifically for helping growers detect and address critical problems in crop cultivation based on satellite data analysis.

For instance, farmers can use the NDMI index map in EOSDA Crop Monitoring to identify if there are signs of overwatering, which is a common issue when growing soybeans. To validate
this information, they can compare it to the soil moisture data also available on the platform. Another index that helps detect problems in the soybean field is MSAVI, which is best applied when the crops are at the initial growth stages. It enables farmers to single outfield areas where the plant is failing to germinate and send out a scout to check this area for the presence of weeds and diseases.

EOSDA Crop Monitoring also offers productivity maps for VRA fertilizers application. The feature divides the field into different zones to identify the most productive and unproductive
areas to make sure there is no over or under-application of fertilizers. The software also provides weather data, which soybean growers can use to avoid plant cold or heat stress.

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