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27 Factors affecting seedling growth — light intensity • 28 Bright sunlight helps seedlings grow vigorously. Lack of light makes seedlings pale and weak-stemmed. Factors affecting seedling growth — nutrients • To grow fast, seedlings need readily available nutrients. In poor soils, fertilizer may be needed at planting to start rapid growth. 29 Factors affecting seedling growth — plant density • • 30 Seedlings growing too close together grow too tall and lodge easily. Seedlings growing too far apart allow too much weed growth.

Growth stages — late vegetative phase • Six nodes on the main stem have fully developed leaves. • The buds in the axils may develop into branches or into flower clusters. 37 Branching • • 38 Branching starts when the plant is about 20 cm tall. The number of branches depends on the soybean variety and plant density. Branches are useful in making up some yield where plant density is low, or when the main stem tip is damaged. Growth stages — flowering Flowering 41 Flowering 42 Flowering pattern — determinate varieties 43 Flowering pattern — indeterminate varieties 44 Flowering • • Soybean flowers grow in clusters called racemes.

Nitrogen fixing is also very rapid at this stage. Flowering pattern — determinate varieties • The flowering pattern of the soybean plant depends on the • variety. Determinate varieties begin flowering when most of the nodes on the main stem have developed. Flowering starts at the upper nodes and progresses downwards and upwards from there. 43 Flowering pattern — indeterminate varieties • • 44 Indeterminate varieties begin flowering when less than half the nodes on the main stem have developed. Flowering starts at the lower nodes, which develop pods while upper nodes are still flowering.

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