Edible bean acres down but yields have increased

When planting edible beans, keep a close eye on volunteer soybeans

When it comes to crop rotations, putting distance between soybeans and edible beans is serious business.

Speaking as part of Manitoba Agriculture’s CropTalk Eastman webinar last week, development specialist Dennis Lange said soybeans can still appear as prevalent volunteers years after they were last grown in a particular field.

“What we’ve been finding is that growers have been having some challenges with the volunteer soybeans two years after the fact,” he said, adding processors then find it very difficult to remove the soybeans during cleaning, particularly from pinto beans.

“It’s a real concern,” he said. “Soybeans are considered an allergen in the edible bean business.”

And it’s not just the odd soybean that pops up, as much as eight or nine per cent of the crop can be taken over by volunteer soybeans after the fact, he said.

It’s so much of a concern for processors that producers may want to notify processors if edible beans are coming off a field where soybeans were recently grown, he said.

Volunteer soybeans in edible beans.

Volunteer soybeans in edible beans.
photo: Dennis Lange, Manitoba Agriculture

Other edible beans can also cause problems for processors when beans are grown back to back and volunteer seed gets into the mix, he added.

Proper rotation is also key to weed control.

“They are not real competitive with weeds when the plants are small, so you really want to pay attention… I think a lot of it has to do with rotation,” Lange said. “Growers should look at the previous crop rotation, weed spectrum, and finally identify any problem weeds that may have caused past quality issues.”

The last of the edible bean acres should be in the ground this week, said Lange, adding between about 110,000 and 120,000 acres are expected. Recent rain has helped producers with planting, he said.

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Soybean Field

“Typically just before and just after the long weekend is when the majority of edible beans is planted,” he said.

However, this year’s acreage will be smaller than last year’s, said Lange.

Acres peaked at 300,000 in 2002, but have been on the decline since then. About 130,000 acres of edible beans were planted in 2015.

“As the soybean acres started to increase, the edible bean acres started to decrease,” he said. But he added that while acres have dropped, yields have increased as producers allot better, more productive land to their edible bean crops.

“Growers are now being very selective about which fields they plant their edible beans in,” he said. Better varieties and improved management practices have also helped to increase crop yield.

“In 2015 we had some very respectable yields,” said Lange, noting pinto beans averaged a yield of 2,146 pounds per acre. Cranberry beans averaged 2,017 pounds per acre, and navy beans came in at 1,816 pounds per acre.

But it’s not just yield that is important, he stressed, quality is key when getting the best price for your crop.

Growers should be careful to avoid earth tags and frost damage on their harvested beans, and work to ensure foreign object like glass or metal don’t end up in harvest samples.

“If your rotations are a little on the tight side and you end up having some bacterial blight in the harvesting sample, that can cause a quality issue for you too,” he added.

About the author

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Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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