Organic Dried Bean Production in Mid-Atlantic

Final Report for ONE08-086

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2008: $7,395.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Laura Hunsberger
University of Maryland Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

Farmers are often looking for ways to diversify their product range and add value to their products. However, jumping into a new crop with little direct experience and often requiring new equipment can be a limiting factor. With vegetable producers and CSAs becoming more diversified, farmers are often looking for a product that they can sell in the off season besides storage vegetables such as potatoes, onions and winter squash.

Field research conducted in 2007 on a transitional farm in Berlin, Maryland resulted in a successful crop of dried beans produced on a transitionally organic grain farm. The production problem faced in this research was the shattering of the beans before harvest. A 50% loss of yield could be eliminated by identifying organically approved methods for desiccating dried beans before harvest to reduce shattering. Additionally, by having a uniform desiccation of beans, beans of different maturity times could be planted and harvested together.

In 2008, a Mexican bean beetle infestation resulted in the Bivalve field plots being damaged. A late planting in Quantico accompanied by mechanical error while harvesting, resulted in an inability to separate treatments. In 2009, unforeseen complications due to cropping space allocated to produce grown for a 200-member CSA, the beans were plowed and replaced with another crop.

Introduction:

This research explores the organic production of dried edible beans in the Mid-Atlantic. Researching dried bean mixes would be appealing to both grain farmers and vegetable farmers This project aims to do the lead work for other farmers who might be interested in moving away from large-scale grain production into niche marketing as well as for vegetable producers with CSA’s. Field research conducted in 2007 in Berlin, Maryland resulted in a successful crop of dried beans produced on a transitionally organic grain farm. The production problem faced in this research was the shattering of the beans before harvest. This research proposes to use two weed management products, 20% vinegar and Clove Leaf Oil (Matran EC) as desiccants in dried bean production to unify bean maturity and reduce shattering. This research will be replicated at the LESREC, Poplar Hill Facility (organic vs. conventional) and on a farm in Bivalve, MD (organic only). Results will be shared with the farming community through a Twilight Tour held at Poplar Hill, Fact Sheet development and speaking at meetings.

Project Objectives:

This research proposes to explore the production of dried edible beans in the Mid-Atlantic.

Researching the means for growing a product like dried bean mixes would be appealing to both grain farmers and vegetable farmers.

This project aims to do the lead work for other farmers who might be interested in moving away from large-scale grain production into niche marketing.

This research proposes to use two weed management products, 20% vinegar and clove leaf oil (Matran® EC, EcoSMART Technologies) as desiccation agents to ease harvesting and improve yields. Two rates of each product will be used and compared to a control.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Jay Martin
  • Ron Mulford

Research

Materials and methods:

This research was replicated at the Lower Eastern Shore Research and Education Center, Poplar Hill Facility in Quantico, MD (organic vs. conventional) and on a farm in Bivalve, MD (Jay Martin, Provident Organic Farm) (organic only). The bean varieties planted include Kenearly (white w/yellow), Calypso (black/white), Marfax (golden tan), King of the Early (mottled red) and Midnight Black Turtle (black). The varieties were chosen to make an attractive soup bean mix as well as to regulate harvesting date. Plot design was identical at Poplar Hill as at Provident Organic Farm with the exception of only organically managed beans were planted at Provident Organic Farm. Beans were planted in 30” rows at a population of 105,000. Plots were 56 x 100’ replicated 3 times. The treatments included an 8% solution of Clove Leaf Oil and 80 gpa of 20% vinegar each applied on 2 different dates (60 days after planting and 70 days after planting), compared to a control.

Weeds were managed through cultivation (stale seedbed). Insect and diseases pests were managed using cultural practices and when necessary, OMRI approved materials.

Beans were harvested by hand and shelled using a custom made bean-sheller. Moisture content was ideal for long-term storage so supplemental drying to reach 13-15.5% moisture was not required.

The harvested beans were sorted and cleaned, and packaged in Ball jars with lids and distributed through the Provident Farm CSA.

Research results and discussion:

In 2008 two locations were chosen for field trials; Provident Organic Farm in Bivalve, MD and the University of Maryland Poplar Hill Research and Education Center in Quantico, MD. Due to a Mexican Bean beetle infestation, the Bivalve field plots were damaged. A late planting in Quantico accompanied by error while using a mechanical harvester, resulted in an inability to separate treatments. Use of vinegar and Matran (clove oil) were useful as desiccants to aid in harvest-time weed management and to even out differences in bean maturity relative to harvest timing.

The beans that were harvested were distributed to CSA members of Provident Farm. The members were supposed to rate the packaging and experiment with recipes. The member with the ‘winning recipe’ (determined through a potluck dinner) was to win half a CSA share the following year. With the reduced yield this portion of the project was not fulfilled.

In 2009 the research was repeated on the farm in Quantico, MD. Unforeseen complications due to cropping space allocated to produce grown for a 200-member CSA, the beans were plowed and replaced with another crop.

Research conclusions:

The beans that were harvested in 2008 and distributed to several CSA memebrs resulted in high praise for texture, flavor and diversity of color. Many recipes were created using the beans, indicating continued interest in the development of a locally based commodity. Without the ability to replicate this in 2009, the local community will have to wait for the one local produce grower to plant acreage in 2010.

Participation Summary

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Farmer Adoption

Many produce growers on the eastern shore of Maryland have shown interest in trying to grow dried soup beans as a result of this research project. Previously presumed obstacles such as sorting, drying (humidity), and pest pressure do not appear to be limiting factors. Small scale plots will be encouraged on several farms in 2010 with one local produce grower aiming to plant dried beans as a value-added commodity to sell at Farmers’ Markets.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Areas needing additional study

A replicated study under more optimal conditions needs to be completed before recommendations can be made on growing dried soup beans on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.