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The soybean is a plant which has been domesticated for several thousand years. The exact time and place of this domestication is not known but the domesticated plant is referred to early in Chinese literature (Morse, 194 7 : 138). The hearth of domestication appears to have been northern China but very early it spread as a crop over a considerable part of Eastern Asia and became a common crop in the areas known today as Japan, China and Manchuria, Formosa, and Korea. Until very recent times the soybean was only a botanical curiosity to the European or Western World but in much of Asia it was an important item of diet.

The soybean was introduced into the United States as early as 1804 but remained little more than an exotic plant to be found in botanical gardens for more than one hundred years. By 1924, the United States production of this crop was about 5 million bushels grown on about 1.5 million acres of farmland . By 1961, soybean production in the United States had reached 693 million bushels from about 27 million acres of cropland (Haywood, 1962: 19). This extremely rapid expansion of soybean acreage and production is one very excellent example of the ability to change and to adapt on the part of the American farmer. It is thus a recent and impressive example of crop dynamics in the United States.

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