Last fall we drilled our edible bean crop, rather than planting them with a planter as we’ve done for the last several years. I think we learned a few lessons that I would like to share with you. 

Let’s start by taking a look at how we planted. We had drilled edible beans several years ago and had good success. We planted that bean crop into winter wheat stubble. 

This first experiment worked well with two exceptions. We didn’t feel we had as good of a plant stand as we would have liked, and we had to load the drill with individual 50-pound bags of seed. The lack of good stand establishment led us to purchase a planter that allowed us to plant the beans in 15-inch rows.

In 2014 we decided to go back to drilling our edible bean crop for a few different reasons. Drilling the edible bean crop with a 30-foot air drill in 7½-inch rows would be a faster way to plant as opposed to planting them in 15-inch rows with a planter. We were able to load the drill with a seed tender we had purchased a few years ago, which really speeds up the handling of the seed.

We also like the idea of the narrower row spacing with the 7½-inch rows. There are a couple of benefits to the narrower rows. A big benefit is the faster development of a crop canopy, which really helps with weed control in all crops, especially edible beans. 

For our herbicide program this year we used a pre-plant herbicide combination of Prowl H20 and Outlook, along with glyphosate. We applied the herbicide about 2 weeks prior to seeding the edible beans.

Another advantage to the narrower row spacing has to do with the architecture of the plants. We planted a Sinaloa pinto bean variety, which is an upright pinto bean. We also seeded the beans at a population of 130,000 plants per acre. 

The Sinaloa seed had a 93% germination rate and we also allow for 10% seed damage by running the bean seed through our air seeder. We seeded the beans at 152,000 seeds per acre to achieve our goal of 130,000 live plants per acre.

We felt with a high seed population in 7½-inch rows, and planting an upright variety, it would force the plant architecture even more upright. We felt this was important to aid in the direct harvest of the edible bean crop.

The crop rotation we have been using is winter wheat-corn-edible-beans. We seeded all of our edible beans this year into irrigated corn residue. Some of the cornfields had been grazed by cattle to reduce the amount of residue we were planting into. We did have one field that wasn’t grazed by cattle.

Our irrigation water use for the season was in the 6-7-inch range on all our fields.  We’re able to use less water to produce an edible bean crop with the corn residue left on the soil surface.  The continuous no-till crop-production system we use really lowers irrigation water requirements because of lower soil moisture evaporation rates and improved water infiltration into the soil.

We did use one additional post emergence herbicide application of Raptor/Result at the first trifoliate stage of the edible bean plant development.  We also applied one fungicide treatment flown on during the early bloom stage of the edible bean crop.

We then direct harvested the edible bean crop with our flex head with an air reel.  The University of Nebraska Extension also used a portion of one of our fields for a direct harvest demonstration.

Next time I’ll share with you some of the observations I made during this year’s growing season with our drilled edible crop and some changes we plan to make for next year’s crop.

Part One  Part Two Part Three Part Four