Botanical description: Soy Bean is an annual. It resembles ordinary field beans but can be easily recognized by its more or less dense hairiness. The stems, which branch from the base, reach a height of from one to four feet. They bear a great number of large leaves, each consisting of three leaflets similar in size and shape to those of ordinary beans. The flowers, which are in dense clusters, are of the ordinary leguminous type and are whitish to purplish in colour. The pods have short, stiff hairs and usually contain two or three seeds.
Geographical distribution: Soy Bean is not known in the wild state. It is probable that it has been developed from Glycine Soja Sieb. et Zucc, a closely related species growing wild in Manchuria, China and Cochin China. That its cultivation is very old in China and Japan is evident from the fact that a great number of varieties have been produced there. It has been grown to a small extent for about a hundred years in southern Europe and was quite recently introduced into the United States and Canada.
Agricultural value: In China and Japan it is used largely for food. The beans are roasted or otherwise cooked or ground for baking purposes.
Cultural conditions: Soy Beans do best on loams rich in organic matter, well drained and free from acid. The soil should be inoculated with the proper bacteria. The plants are not very sensitive to drought.
Varieties: The numerous varieties differ in growth, time of development, colour of flowers and seed, and in their adaptability to climatic conditions. Medium Green, a high-yielding variety of outstanding merit for hay as well as for seed production, is best suited to Canada.
The plant got its name from Soy, a product obtained by a long and complicated fermentation of a mixture of cooked Soy Beans, ground wheat and steamed rice or barley, to which later is added water and salt. Soy is the principal constituent of Worcester and other sharp sauces.