Preservation of soybean quality is the greatest concern for international marketing, especially for major exporting countries such as the USA and Brazil. The major quality-degrading factors in soybeans are moisture, splits, foreign material and damage (Spencer, 1976). A reduced moisture level can sometimes be responsible for a greater number of splits. Since soybeans have two structurally strong halves attached together with relatively weak bonds, low moisture can ease the splitting. Split soybeans are becoming a concern in modern cargo shipments. Splitting mostly occurs at the discharge end due to the impact of soybeans falling from heights as high as 30 m (Spencer, 1976). Splitting soybeans accelerates the growth of mould and changes in composition (Urbanski et al., 1980). Hot-air drying also causes seed coat and cotyledon cracking, which increase breakage during subsequent handling or conveying (Ting et al., 1980; White et al., 1980). Soybeans are susceptible to cracks and breakage when moisture content falls below 11% wb (Paulsen et al., 1981). Germination of soybeans decreases by >10% when the seeds are dropped from equal heights onto a concrete floor compared to a galvanized iron floor, and damaged seeds lead to microbial or insect infestation (White et al., 1976; Parde et al., 2002). Physical damage to soybeans due to impacts during handling has been mentioned elsewhere (Paulsen et al., 1981; Bartsch et al., 1986). This indicates that great care needs to be taken when handling soybeans.
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