When thinking of crayons do you think of soybeans? You probably should because they are a key ingredient in making soy crayons. That’s not the only household item they are used to make. Soybeans are used to make candles, hair-care products, and so much more!

When thinking of the states that produce this legume, the Midwestern usually comes to mind. However, the Southeast produces them, also. Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Carolina’s all have acres dedicated to the production of soybeans. According to the United Soybean Board and National Oilseed Processors Association, soybeans contributes $115.8 billion to the U.S. economy and approximately $927 million to Georgia’s economy.

These legumes are planted in the spring, usually two or three weeks after the last frost is over. In the Southeast, can start earlier in the spring, though, since there are generally less frosts. Before planting, be sure to check that the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

This legume is an annual plant that is free-branching and has hairs. Each plant has pods, and these pods can contain up to four seeds in them. Once the pods are mature and turn a tan color, it is time for harvest.

Soybeans are harvested with a combine like corn and wheat. The front of the combine has a piece called a header. This piece cuts and collects the soybean plant while the beans are separated and taken out. The soybeans, then, go to a holding tank in the back of the combine.

After the harvest, soybeans are either sent directly to a grain dealer or they are taken to a storage facility until it is time to sell them. Eventually, all soybeans will be transported to a processing plant. At this plant the soybean meal is separated from the soy components. The soybean meal is great for livestock feed, and this oil can be used in cooking oils, paint, diesel, and other products mentioned above.

Soybeans’ impact travels far beyond the Midwest. So, think about them the next time you feed livestock, cook in the kitchen, or color with some crayons.