No other one crop
This Nov 1940 story highlights early dramatic growth in soybean acres, yield and total bushels from the 1920s to 1939. U.S. soybean acres went from 99,000 in 1919 (mostly in the deep South) to 4.22 million in 1939 (mostly in the Midwest). Total bushels measured 4.94 million in 1924 (11 bu./acre average yield), which leaped to 87.41 million bushels in 1939 (average yield topping 20 bu./acre). This growth led to the beginning of futures trading in 1937 at Chicago Board of Trade.
Illinois tells of progress
Discussions during the Farm and Home Week on the U of Illinois Urbana campus centered around a prediction of $0.90/bushel average soybean prices from Oct 1940 to Sept 1941. The potential market upside pointed to larger defense expenditures that strengthen feedstuff demand, with a downside of potential European blockade that would reduce value of soybean oil.
Soybeans rate next to corn in acre profit
In Illinois, corn returned a profit of $10.52/acre average from 1935-39. Soybeans came is second with an average profit of $5.85 over the same period. Cost to produce a bushel of soybeans dropped from $1.50/acre (1922-26) to $0.56/acre (1935-39) thanks to early use of combines and other larger machinery. Man labor declined from 13.4 hrs/acre in 1922-24 to 4 hrs/acre in 1936-39. In that same period, horse labor dropped from 29.1 to 4 hrs/acre, while tractor use climbed from 0.7 hrs to 2.4 hrs/acre.
Soybean special to begin tour
University Extension specialists, working with railroad companies, used a 46-stop tour through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to educate farmers on how to “grow soybeans better” and sell industrialists on the value of soybeans for their potential use. This tour also educated women on the vaule of soybeans in the human diet, complete with recipes and “special program for high school home economics girls.”
Domestic oils replace foreign
This story highlights a 23% growth of soybean oil used in oleomargarine in one year, from 1939 to 1940 (due to increased margarine production). It replaced imported oils, and it provided “additional ammunition for the ever-heavier barrage which state oleomargarine taxes are facing as measures restrictive to inter-state trade.” 87 million pounds of soy oil (11 million bushels) went into 1940 oleomargine production.
Straight through combines praised
Northern Illinois farmer Abner Thomas, an early seed bean producer, writes about a love for the “straight-through” soybean combine as “the perfect method for threshing beans.” However, he wanted equipment companies to make corn machinery fit soybean production. One recommendation was for “pick-up snouts on the sickle to gather down branches,” as he believes “42-inch row beans are here to stay.”
Should innoculation be done annually
Yes, seed dealers selling annual soybean seed innnoculation were “met with only a cold stare” back in the late 1930s, according to this story that combined different opinions from state university researchers and innoculant company researchers.
Industrial soybean research promotion
This photo story (supplied by U.S. Junior Chamber of Congress) was a promotion for industrial soybean research by Robert Boyer, leading to use of soybeans to develop synthetic fibre and resin for car seats and auto body parts, working with Henry Ford. Ford also mentions how he treasures his suit made of 25% soybeal “wool” and 75% sheep’s wool.
April 1941 Soybean Digest cover
Had to show this first use of a “spot color” on a cover – driven by an advertiser who wanted orange in his back-cover ad.
World production increases in 1940
Interesting world soybean production numbers during the late 1930s. U.S. production (79.8 million bushels in 1940) ran third behind China (216.8 million) and Manchuria (140.6 million -- then under Japan control, now it is northeast China). The European war cut international trade in half during 1939-40 compared to the previous marketing year. U.S. exports of soybeans and oil hit 11 million bushels and 18 million gallons, respectively, in 1939-40.
Soybeans draw heavily on minerals
This story, penned by the National Fertilizer Association, discusses how “a good crop of soybeans (25 bu./acre) uses about twice as much phosphoric acid and potash as a good wheat crop (30 bu./acre), and about the same amount of these two plantfoods as a 60 bu./acre crop of corn.” A soybean crop requires considerably more calcium and somewhat more magnesium than corn, oats or wheat. The story also dispels the myth that soybeans are a soil-improving crop. “This is only true if the whole crop is plowed under, and even then the only addition to the soil is the nitrogen obtained from the air and organic matter.”
Crop failures traced to three causes
Failed soybeans are caused by one or a combination of three main causes – a poor stand, weeds and harvesting difficulties. Story details cited failure to know seed germination to properly adjust seeding rate; plowing soybean ground too late, waiting until after the corn was planted; not taking whatever actions are necessary to pulverize and level the soil and to kill all the weeds – to conserve moisture and aid germination. A corn planter delivers better and quicker soybean germination than a wheat drill. A rotary how must be used when rains crust the surface – but sometimes a disc is needed “if soils badly run together.” And before combining can be done, the pods should release their seed readily on being pressed between the thumb and finger.
Secretary ponders on AAA soybean problem, advises standard varieties
Soil conservation officers are not entirely comfortable with soybeans. “Soybeans for grain are soil depleting and soybeans for hay are non-depleting. This arrangement gives thousands of farmers an opportunity to ride into compliance on the soybean hay wagon. Apparently, too many farmers are concernd more about complying for the cash payment than about conserving their soil fertility. Toomany acres are being slashed off, without regard to nature of the soil, the need for a cover crop, or the susceptibility to erosion.”
Check out these rising soybean futures prices – hitting upwards of $1.33/bu.
Corn data summary shows potential value of soybean yield contests
Even in 1941, the Illinois Crop Improvement Association was touting the benefits of aggregated data, accumulated over an 11-year period. What was learned? It pays to strive for high yields; corn yields are 4.5 bu./acre higher after alfalfa or clovers (corn after soybeans showed poorest yields); tile drainage increased corn yields by 4.26 bu./acre; acid soils cut yields by 9.6 bu./acre; manure increased yields by 2.4 bu./acre; and commercial fertilizer increased yields by 10.1 bu./acre. Plowing more than 7 inches deep produced 5 bu./acre more than plowing less than 7 inches deep.
USDA urges soybean increase
War conditions were interrupting the flow of fats and oils supply from normal sources, so USDA changed the AAA conservation program to encourage more soybean acres for oil (to stop harvesting soybeans for hay).
Pacific coast mills first to crush soybeans in US in 1910
Our U.S. soybean crushing effort goes way back to 1910, importing northeast China (Manchurian) beans to an oil mill on the Pacific Coast. Soybean oil was first used in margarine in large quantities in 1916.
The new soybean grades
For 1941, the test weight and damage factors changed only slightly. No.2 yellow soybeans permit maximum moisture of 14% (instead of 15). Some tolerance is given on splits where No.2 yellow allows 15% (it was 10%). Biggest change is the inclusion of foreign matter dockage, and the round hole in the grading sieve is 8/64-inch instead of 10/64-inch to save soybean pieces that often fell through to become foreign matter.
Farmers resent market fluctuations
Written by a grain company, this story discusses the wild market swings (from $0.60 to $1.60/bu.) “Lots of farmers have never loved the soybean game since they got so badly fooled on the markets last year. Any move toward a safer and saner soybean market will be welcomed by us all.”
Equipment industry eyes soybeans
When a new crop is introduced, the first question the equipment industry must answer is if current machinery can handle it. Right now thousands of farmers raising 15 to 20 acres of soybeans per year doesn’t bear much overload on corn equipment. Different planter plates for corn planters seems to be working to handle soybean seed size differences. Current row widths vary widely. Some want 16 inch, some 18 or 20, others want 21, and again we find many using 40 or 42-inch wide rows. No implement can handle all this. Regular corn cultivators seem to handle soybeans. A drag harrow can be an excellent soil pulvizer and weed killer in certain conditions. A cultipacker can help with seedbed prep. The soybean has done much to bring the somewhat despised rotary hoe back into popularity, since a tractor makes it work much better than a horse could. The combine has solved the harvesting problems.
Million more acres, says A.A.A.
The 1942 Food for Freedom campaign by the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) has a goal to drive soybean acres from 5.9 million in 1941 to 7 million in 1942. The state and county AAA committees have their goals and the township committee will line up farmers to meet the goals. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina will increase acres the most, with other state east and south all given different directives.
Illini celebrate soybean decade
Nearly 1,600 soybean pioneers gathered at the University of Illinois to celebrate a decade of building a new crop by producing more than half the nation’s soybeans. This story recognizes the leading growers who helped pioneer this crop beginning in 1914.