History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Alabama (1872-2021)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-42-7

Publication Date: 2021 June 27

Number of References in Bibliography: 728

Earliest Reference:

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Brief Chronology/Timeline of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Alabama

1872 Nov. 15 – “How to Cook Japan Peas,” is published in the Times-Argus in Selma, Alabama. It begins: "Many of our readers have raised Japan peas [soybeans] this season,..”

This is the earliest document seen (June 2021) concerning soybeans in Alabama, or the cultivation of soybeans in Alabama. This document contains the earliest date seen for soybeans in Alabama, or the cultivation of soybeans in Alabama (Nov. 1872).

1897 May 20 – George Washington Carver writes a letter to Booker T. Washington about growing the soja at Tuskegee, Alabama.

1897 Aug. – The Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (at Auburn) publishes its first Bulletin (No. 87) that mentions the soja bean [soybean]. It is titled “Soil Inoculation for Leguminous Plants,” by J.F. Duggar.

1903 Dec. – J.F. Duggar of Auburn, Alabama, publishes his 5th Alabama Experiment Station Bulletin in which the soy bean is mentioned.

1907 Dec. 3 – C.V. Piper, Agrostologist at the U.S. Dep. of Agriculture writes Prof. J.F. Duggar at Auburn: “Dear Prof. Duggar: Mr. H.T. Nielsen informs me that you are growing a quantity of Mammoth soybean this year. We want to secure about 20 bushels and if you can spare this amount, I will be obliged… Thus begins a long collaboration in testing and developing soybean varieties between Alabama and the USDA.

1909 – In the 1909 U.S. Census, Alabama was the 5th largest producer of soybeans for seed (219 bushels) after North Carolina (13,313 bushels), Tennessee (2,037 bushels), Ohio (424 bushels), and Virginia (415 bushels).

1918 – This year, U.S. soybean production for 13 states (in descending order of bushels produced) is:

North Carolina 1,700,000 (55.9% of total U.S. production)

Virginia 630,000

Alabama 240,000

Mississippi 96,000

(Monthly Crop Reporter (USDA), Oct. 1919, p. 103).

1931 – Percy Lavon Julian is awarded his PhD in chemistry from the University of Vienna.

1936 Aug. – Dr. Percy Julian, a brilliant black chemist, begins to work for The Glidden Co. as director of research (Nova. 2007).

1942 – Dr. Julian’s lab develops Aer-O-Foam fire-fighting foam from soybeans and has it manufactured by U.S. Foam System, Inc. for the U.S. Navy. It was very effective at putting out fires (especially large fires on ships, oil fields, refineries, etc.) by smothering them and cutting off their oxygen supply. In one Pacific sea fight 118 warship fires were reportedly snuffed out by this foam (Time magazine, 1943. Dec. 6, p. 86, 88; Soybean Digest. 1944. July, p. 8).

1942 – George Washington Carver (Tuskegee, Alabama) and Henry Ford become friends with a common interest in soybeans and chemurgy. Carver is invited to visit Ford in Michigan, and Ford has a laboratory named after Carver.

1949 Nov. – “Two tremendously important new developments in the synthesis of hormone compounds for possible treatment of rheumatoid arthritis have been announced by the Glidden Company. These new developments are: (1) Synthesis from the soybean of several new hormone compounds closely related to the already proven Cortisone (Kendall's Compound E [Dr. Edward C. Kendall of the Mayo Clinic]), and (2) A new and less costly method of synthesizing the still rare and immensely expensive Cortisone.

"Both are the work of Glidden's Soya Products Division's research staff under the direction of the brilliant Dr. Percy L. Julian.

"Of the new compounds created from the soybean, the most immediately promising is one called Compound S, which has never before existed in quantities sufficient for adequate testing. Although the value of Compound S in treating rheumatoid arthritis is as yet unknown, many scientists believe it will have an effect similar to that of Cortisone.”

For some years the company's soya products division has produced as bulk chemicals the sex hormones Progesterone and Testosterone, synthesized from the soybean by Dr. Julian. (Soybean Digest. p. 19).

1968 April – Alabama Soybean Producers Association organized (Soybean Digest, p. 34).

1970 – Alabama soybean production more than doubled between 1970 (13,800 bushels) and 1975 (31,440 bushels).

1990 – Stephen Barnes, PhD, of the Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham publishes the first of more than 50 important papers about soy nutrition. His main thesis is that phytoestrogens reduce cancer incidence and risk.

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