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Published September 24, 2012, 11:24 AM

Long search pays off

Some people spend a lifetime looking for a four-leaf clover. Kelly Kotowicz spent five years searching for a soybean pod with five beans.

Some people spend a lifetime looking for a four-leaf clover. Kelly Kotowicz spent five years searching for a soybean pod with five beans.

“I finally found one,” says Kotowicz, seed manager with Farmers Elevator Co. of Alvarado, Minn., in the northwest part of the state.

Traditionally, a soybean pod contains two or three beans. But new soybean varieties are producing more pods with four or, in rare cases, even five pods. More beans per pod mean greater potential for big yields.

Soybean pods with five beans are “not a complete rarity” in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, but are less common there than in some soybean-growing areas, says Jeff Hamre, executive director of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association.

Soybean production has been expanding into parts of North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, where the crop traditionally wasn’t grown.

A long-running promotional campaign by Asgrow soybeans, a Monsanto product, encouraged farmers and others in agriculture to search for and report five-bean pods.

Several YouTube videos feature agriculturalists searching for five-bean pods.

The North Dakota Soybean Council, which now has a logo featuring a pod with three soybeans, is switching to a logo that has four soybeans in a pod. It’s a sign of how soybean farmers and their industry are adjusting from two or three beans to four or five beans per pod.

The new logo will better reflect the organization and its mission, says Diana Beitelspacher, the council’s executive director.

“The research (into producing soybeans with more beans per pod) has really paid off,” she says.

Kotowicz says he found his five-bean pod in mid-September while scouting a seed production field. He found only the one.

“Of course I looked for another hour and didn’t find another,” he says.

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