Increasing the viability of heirloom dry bean production in the Northeast

Final Report for ONE15-234

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,998.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), a high-protein pulse crop, have been grown in the Northeast since the 1800’s.  Currently the demand for heirloom dry beans has exceeded the supply. Vermont farmers have struggled to obtain consistent high yields and quality. Their primary issues include seed acquisition, stand establishment, disease control, and reaching proper maturity at harvest.  This project focused on key agronomic factors that can quickly help farmers improve the yields and quality of heirloom dry beans.

In 2015 heirloom dry bean research trials were established at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT and Morningstar Meadows Farm, Glover, VT. These trials sought to answer key dry bean production questions including; variety selection, best planting date ranges and optimum seeding rates. Bean fields at 4 farms throughout Vermont were scouted several times during the growing season for disease and insect pests.

Trials evaluated a total of 19 heirloom varieties. Of the 19 varieties, Red Calypso did not reach maturity prior to harvest in either location hence making it not suitable for the region. Top yielding varieties included Rattlesnake, Spanish Tolasna, Tongue of Fire, Vermont Appaloosa, King of the Early, and Vermont Cranberry. Variety evaluation results indicated that heirloom varieties have yields ranging from approximately 200 to 1800 lbs per acre. The heirloom beans also varied in susceptibility to diseases. Tongue of Fire, Snow Cap, Red Calypso, and Tiger’s Eye were particularly susceptible to Anthracnose. Additional evaluation of heirloom varieties is necessary to accurately predict yield potential and pest susceptibility. Planting date studies preliminarily indicate that a mid-June planting date will yield almost double that of a planting date in late-May. However later planting dates can be risky due to increased chance of frosts prior to the crop reaching maturity.  Additional years of planting date evaluation would help to develop a more accurate range of adequate planting dates for our region. Seeding rate studies were largely inconclusive due to poor trial establishment. However it was clear that establishing adequate stands of dry beans was difficult for farms and for the researchers as well. Poor seed quality was a major contributor to poor stands but additional research is needed to fully understand stand failures and strategies to overcome this obstacle.

A number of primary and secondary fungal and bacterial diseases were documented on dry beans in Vermont. Primary diseases included anthracnose, white mold, root rots, and bacterial blight. Potato leafhopper was identified as a primary pest of dry beans in Vermont. Future research will be required to provide adequate integrated pest management options for growers to manage these pest issues.

Four outreach events were held and dry bean production information was shared with 550 local farmers and other stakeholders. A first version of the Northeast Dry Bean Production Guide was developed and posted online (www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil). Several factsheets related to insect, disease, and seed sourcing were also developed and distributed at outreach events and online.

After learning about project results farmers indicated they would implement new practices including purchasing certified seed, testing seed germination, planting at heavier seeding rates, harvesting earlier, and saving only high quality seed. 

Introduction:

Organic dry bean production has quadrupled across the nation over the last 3 years. Dry beans have been grown in the Northeast since the 1800’s. Currently the demand for heirloom dry beans has exceeded the supply. Although white cooking beans have been successfully grown in the Northeast for generations, heirloom dry beans including Jacob’s Cattle and Vermont Cranberry, are more challenging to grow locally. Local farmers have struggled to obtain consistent high yields and quality. Their primary issues include quality seed acquisition, stand establishment, disease, and reaching proper maturity at harvest.

At UVM Extension’s Northwest Crops & Soils 2013 Crops & Soils Field Day, surveyed attendees agreed that they would like more agronomic information on specialty crops like dry beans. One grower wrote, “colored beans, organic or conventional, are in demand—it would be great to get more info on seeding rates and spacing and harvesting.”  At the 2014 Northern Grain Growers Conference a dry bean session was held at the event. The session drew over 175 attendees from ME, NY, CT, MA, NH, PA, VT, and Quebec. Some farmers drove over 8 hours to attend a presentation on growing heirloom dry beans indicating a need for the information not only in VT but also beyond. Expert farmers presented successes and the many challenges they face growing beans in their farms. The primary issues identified by farmers were difficulty-accessing seed; poor stand establishment, and disease issues. The farmers indicated they were often “flying by the seat of their pants” trying to figure out best agronomic practices.

Successful dry bean production in the Northeast hinges upon regionally-specific agronomic knowledge. Producers need to understand the specific demands of growing heirloom dry beans in this climate, with shorter growing seasons, and unique soil conditions and pest management challenges. Many growers have expressed disappointment with the crops they have grown. So although the demand is good for these crops the learning curve can often be steep for a new grower. Success of growing a new crop will often depend on receiving technical assistance to avoid pitfalls and failure in the first years. It is our intention to continue to explore and develop agronomic information that can be quickly adapted by the dry bean growing community to help increase and stabilize yields so farmers have less risk in growing this crop.

 

Project Objectives:

The objectives of this project were to:
1.Document seed sources and strategies for seed saving;
2.Screen heirloom varietals and develop a list of top performing lines for the region;
3.Develop optimum planting dates and seeding rates;
4.Determine primary pest issues and identify control options;
5.Evaluate biological seed treatments for control of early season diseases.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Seth Johnson
  • Roger Rainville

Research

Materials and methods:

Heirloom Dry Bean Variety Trials

In June 2015 heirloom bean variety trials were established at Morningstar Meadows Farm, Glover, VT (10 varieties) and Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT (19 varieties). The seed source guide was developed in conjunction with our team trying to source heirloom varieties for this research project. The experimental plot design at both locations was a randomized complete block with four replications in Alburgh and three replications in Glover. The heirloom dry bean varieties, seed sources, and seeding rates for both sites are listed in Table 1 that can be found in Attachment A.

The seedbeds at both the Alburgh and Glover locations were prepared by conventional tillage methods. All plots were managed with practices similar to those used by producers in the surrounding areas (Table 2 that can be found in Attachment A). The previous crop planted at the Alburgh site was sweet corn and in Glover it was a mixture of grains and wheat. The field in Alburgh was spring plowed, disked and spike tooth harrowed to prepare for planting. At the Glover site the seedbed was prepared by spring moldboard plowed and followed by disk harrow. In Alburgh, the plots were planted on 5-Jun with a John Deere 1750 planter fitted with soybean cups. Seeding rates were determined by calibrating the planter for each bean type’s recommended seeding rate. The trial at Glover was seeded on 10-Jun with a White 140 plate planter. Prior to planting, bean seed at both trial locations were treated with dry bean inoculant. Additionally in Glover, an organic approved fertilizer called MicroSTART 60 (3-2-3) was applied as a starter fertilizer at 350 lbs ac-1. Plot size at both locations were 5’ x 20’, with 30-inch row spacing.

At both trial locations, plant populations were taken on 30-Jun by counting the number of plants in 10 feet of the two center rows of each plot.

In Alburgh, the plots were mechanically cultivated with a four row Brillion cultivator on 17-Jun and 7-Jul. In addition, the plots were weeded by hand once in June and again in July. At the Glover location, plots were tine weeded twice and a John Deere 4-row C-shank with crop shields was used to cultivate five times weekly starting 12-Jun.

On 14-Jul and 10-Aug, plots were scouted at the Alburgh site and on 15-Jul and 12-Aug in Glover. Trials were scouted by using two, 0.5 meter quadrats for disease symptoms and insect damage in each plot. Quadrats were placed randomly within bean rows. In each quadrat, the number of plants were recorded. The number of plants with disease symptoms and insect damage were recorded. In addition, one plant per quadrat was pulled to examine roots for pest damage.  Plants with unknown discoloration or damage were pulled, placed in a labeled plastic bag, refrigerated, and identified at the UVM Plant Diagnostic Laboratory.

At the time of harvest, at both trial locations, the number of pods were counted on three plants, three pod lengths were measured in centimeters, the number of beans in three pods were counted, and 10 pods were examined for the presence of disease. All plots were harvested in Alburgh on 22-Sep by hand. The harvested bean plants were then bundled and hung to dry overnight. Beans were then threshed with an Almaco Large Vogel plot thresher. Beans were then weighed to calculate yields and a DICKEY-John M3G moisture tester was used to determine bean moisture content. In Glover, all plots were harvested on 18-Sep by hand and threshed using an Almaco Large Vogel plot thresher. Beans were then weighed to calculate yield and a DICKEY-John MINI GAC Plus was used to determine bean moisture content and test weight.

Data was analyzed using mixed model analysis using the mixed procedure of SAS (SAS Institute, 1999). Replications were treated as random effects and treatments were treated as fixed. Mean comparisons were made using the Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure when the F-test was considered significant (p<0.10). In Alburgh, diseased pods, moisture, and test weight were analyzed using the PROC MIXED procedure in SAS using the Tukey-Kramer adjustment, which means that each variety was analyzed with a pairwise comparison. There were significant differences among the two locations for most parameters, and therefore data from each location is reported independently.

Dry Bean Seeding Rate Trial

The trial was conducted in 2015 at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT. The experimental design was a randomized complete block split design with three replications. Main plots were seeding rate and subplots were varieties (Table 10 can be found in Attachment D).

The soil type at the project site was a Benson rocky silt loam. The seedbed was prepared by spring plow, followed by disk and spike tooth harrow. All plots were managed with practices similar to those used by producers in the surrounding areas (Table 11 can be found in Attachment D).

Plots were planted on 29-May with a John Deere 1750 planter using the soybean cups. Seeding rates were determined by calibrating the planter for each bean variety and target seeding rate. Prior to planting, bean seed was treated with dry bean inoculant. The plots were 10’x 30’, with 30-inch row spacing. Plant populations were taken on 26-Jun by counting the number of plants in 10 feet of the two center rows of each plot. Plots were mechanical cultivated with a four row Brillion cultivator on 17-Jun and 7-Jul. In addition, the plots were weeded by hand once in June and again in July. On 2-Jul, plots were scouted using two 0.5 meter quadrats for disease symptoms and insect damage in each plot. Quadrats were placed randomly within bean rows. In each quadrat, the number of plants were recorded. The number of plants with disease symptoms and insect damage were recorded. In addition, one plant per quadrat was pulled to examine roots for pest damage.  Plants with unknown discoloration or damage were pulled, placed in a labeled plastic bag, refrigerated, and identified at the UVM Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. All plots were harvested on 22-Sep by hand, and the harvest area was two 5-foot sections in each plot. The harvested bean plants were then bundled and hung to dry overnight. Beans were then threshed with an Almaco Large Vogel plot thresher. Beans were then weighed to calculate yields and a DICKEY-John M3G moisture tester was used to determine bean moisture content.

Data was analyzed using mixed model analysis using the mixed procedure of SAS (SAS Institute, 1999). Replications were treated as random effects and treatments were treated as fixed. Mean comparisons were made using the Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure when the F-test was considered significant (p<0.10)

Dry Bean Planting Date Trials

In 2015, the trials were conducted at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT and at Morningstar Meadows Farm, Glover, VT.

Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh, VT

The experimental design was a randomized complete block split design with four replications. The main plots were planting date and subplots were bean type (Table 14 can be found in Attachment F). Planting dates were initiated on 22-May and continued approximately every week for 4 weeks. The subplots were three dry bean types (pinto, yellow eye, and black beans) and were selected to represent types commonly grown in the northeast (Table 14 can be found in Attachment F). Plots were planted with a John Deere 1750 planter fitted with soybean cups (Table 15 can be found in Attachment F). Seeding rates were determined by calibrating the planter for each bean type’s recommended seeding rate. Prior to planting, bean seed were treated with dry bean inoculant.

The soil type at the project site was a Benson rocky silt loam. The seedbed was prepared by spring plow, followed by disk and spike tooth harrow. Before planting subsequent planting dates, the area to be planted was spike tooth harrowed. All plots were managed with practices similar to those used by producers in the surrounding areas (Table 16 can be found in Attachment F).

The plots were 10’x 20’, with 30-inch row spacing. Plant populations were taken on 30-Jun by counting the number of plants in 10 feet of the two center rows of each plot. Plots were mechanical cultivated with a four row Brillion cultivator on 17-Jun and 7-Jul. In addition, the plots were weeded by hand once in June and again in July.

All plots were harvested on 22-Sep by hand, the harvest area was two 5 foot sections in each plot. The harvested bean plants were then bundled and hung to dry overnight. Beans were then threshed with an Almaco Large Vogel plot thresher. Beans were then weighed to calculate yields and a DICKEY-John M3G moisture tester was used to determine bean moisture content.

Morningstar Meadows Farm, Glover, VT

The experimental design was a randomized complete block split design with three replications. The main plots were planting date and subplots were variety (Table 17 can be found in Attachment F). Planting dates were initiated on 29-May and continued approximately every week for 3 weeks with a White 140 planter using the red seeding plates (Table 18 can be found in Attachment F). The varieties were selected based upon varieties commonly grown on Morningstar Meadows Farm and relative maturity (Table 17 can be found in Attachment F). Prior to planting, bean seed were treated with dry bean inoculant. An organic approved fertilizer called MicroSTART 60 (3-2-3) was applied as a starter fertilizer at 350 lbs ac-1.

The soil type at the project site was a sandy loam. The seedbed was prepared by spring moldboard plowed and followed by disk harrow. Before planting subsequent planting dates, the area to be planted was disk harrowed. All plots were managed with practices similar to those used by producers in the surrounding areas (Table 19 can be found in Attachment F).

The plots were 10’x 25’, with 30-inch row spacing. Plant populations were taken on 30-Jun by counting the number of plants in 10 feet of the two center rows of each plot. Planting date one was tineweeded on 7-Jun and planting dates 1 and 2 were tineweeded on 12-Jun. A John Deere 4-row C-shank with crop shields was used to cultivate planting date 1 on 17-Jun and all plots on 25-Jun.

All plots were harvested on 18-Sep by hand and threshed using an Almaco Large Vogel plot thresher. Beans were then weighed to calculate yield and a DICKEY-John MINI GAC Plus was used to determine bean moisture content and test weight.

Data were analyzed using mixed model analysis using the mixed procedure of SAS (SAS Institute, 1999). Replications were treated as random effects and treatments were treated as fixed. Mean comparisons were made using the Least Significant Difference (LSD) procedure when the F-test was considered significant (p<0.10). In Alburgh, yields were analyzed using the PROC MIXED procedure in SAS using the Tukey-Kramer adjustment, which means that each variety and planting date was analyzed with a pairwise comparison.

Dry Bean Pest Scouting

Beans were scouted for disease and insect pests at the following farms; Morningstar Meadows Farm in Glover VT, Borderview Farm in Alburgh, VT, Yoder Farm in Danby, VT, and Island View Farm in North Hero, VT. Disease and insect samples were taken and identified with assistance from the UVM Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. At Borderview Farm, pest scouting occurred in the heirloom variety, planting date, and seeding rate trials on 7/2, 7/14, 8/10, 8/19 and 9/25. Scouting occurred at Morningstar Meadows Farm heirloom variety trial, planting date trial, and a larger production field on 6/16, 6/30, 7/15, 8/12, and 9/18. Where cultivation occurred between rows, weed control was good. Our earliest scouting effort occurred in this location. Yoder Farm was scouted on 7/10, 8/14, and 9/10. Island View Farm was only scouted on two dates: 6/29 and 7/14. This large bean field was terminated due to weed pressure and water logged soil. Bean plants were stunted and chlorotic. Potato leafhoppers were observed on both scouting dates. Galinsoga and bind weed were the main weed pests that we observed to be a problem in this field.

Research results and discussion:

Heirloom Dry Bean Variety Trials

The 2015 growing season brought a warmer and drier than average May followed by cooler and wetter June. Below average rainfall was recorded in July, August, and September totaled almost ten inches below the 30 year average. In Alburgh, there was an accumulation of 2578 Growing Degree Days (GDDs), which is 367 GDDs above the 30 year average. The 2015 growing season at the Glover location brought a warmer than average May followed by cooler temperatures in June, July, August, and September. Above average rainfall was recorded in the months of May, June, July, and September that totaled almost eight inches higher the 30 year average. In Glover, there was an accumulation of 1448 GDDs, which is 687 GDDs below the 30 year average.

Heirloom Dry Bean Pests

 Several plant pests were identified through scouting this season (Table 3, Table 4 can both be found in Attachment B). At both trial locations the fungal disease Anthracnose appeared to be an important systemic disease in bean fields (Image 1 can be found in Attachment B). Discoloration was observed that began as red spots on leaves that developed into lesions. As lesions developed, leaf veins turned reddish-dark brown. Signs of bean pod infection are black, circular lesions on the pod. Anthracnose survives in crop residue and seeds.

At the Alburgh location Anthracnose was identified on Black Calypso, European Soldier, Eye of Goat, Jacob’s Cattle, Rattlesnake, Red Calypso, Snow Cap, Spanish Talosna, Tiger Eye, Vermont Appaloosa, and Vermont Cranberry. The most prevalent disease was Common bacterial bean blight. Additional pests identified in Alburgh include; Alternaria, Fusarium, Bacterial Brown Spot, and Potato Leafhoppers. Interestingly, Potato Leafhopper was the only insect pest, at both locations, identified. This insect causes leaf damage often referred to as “Hopper burn” (Image 1 can be found in Attachment B).

In Glover, Anthracnose was identified on Black Calypso, Raquel, Rattlesnake, Snow Cap, Tongue of Fire, Vermont Appaloosa, and Vermont Cranberry. Bacterial brown spot and Common bacterial bean blight were also prevalent. Leaf Rust was identified on Red Calypso and Vermont Cranberry. Potato Leafhoppers were more of an issue in Glover, all varieties, except for Snow Cap, showed signs of “hopper burn”.

Heirloom Dry Bean Harvest

In Alburgh, Spanish Talosna had the highest plant population (58,370 plants) (Table 5 can be found in Attachment C). All plant populations were below target seeding rates. The highest number of pods per plant was Orca with 23 pods and the lowest was Red Calypso with 7 pods. The longest pod was Vermont Appaloosa, (15.8 cm), Rattlesnake also had long pods (15.4 cm) and therefore, was not significantly different from Vermont Appaloosa. In addition, Rattlesnake had the highest number of beans per pod (7 beans). The highest yielding variety was Pinto (1476 lbs ac-1) and the lowest yielding was European Soldier (169 lbs ac-1) (Figure 1 can be found in Attachment C). In Alburgh there were no significant differences in the number of diseased pods and harvest moisture (Table 6 can be found in Attachment C). The variety with the highest test weight was Spanish Talosna (58.8 lbs bu-1). However, all varieties were below industry standards of 60 lbs bu-1.

Plant population, pods per plant, beans per pod, and the number of diseased pods were all significantly different at the Glover trial location (Table 7 can be found in Attachment C). Red Calypso had the highest plant population (61,274 plants) and the lowest plant population was Spanish Talosna (11,906 plants). All of the plant populations of the varieties trialed at this site were also below the targeted seeding rates. The highest number of pods per plant was Orca with 22 pods. Rattlesnake beans had the largest number of beans per pod (7 beans) and also had lowest number of diseased pods (3 pods). Snow cap had the highest pod disease incidence, 10 out of 10 pods.

In Glover, harvest yield, mositure, and test weight differed significantly by variety (Table 8 can be found in Attachment C). The highest yielding variety was Rattlesnake (1774 lbs ac-1). Spanish Talosna was also high yielding (1364 lbs ac-1). The lowest yielding harvested variety was Snow Cap (259 lbs ac-1) (Figure 2 can be found in Attachment C). Red Calypso had so much disease that it could not be harvested. The lowest harvest moisture was Orca (7.33%). Additional varieties with low moistures included; Rattlesnake (7.40%) , and Spanish Talosna (9.97%). All the other moisture levels were above 13% and therefore, required drying for long term storage. Vermont Appaloosa had the highest test weight of 62.5 lbs bu-1, exceeding industry standards of 60 lbs bu-1. Spanish Talosna also had a test weight (61.0 lbs bu-1) that surpassed industry standards.

Dry Bean Seeding Rate Trial

Actual plant populations for all varieties trialed differed from the target seeding rates (Table 12 can be found in Attachment E). The black turtle bean population instead ranged from 51,691 (72.8% germination) to 80,731 (64.1% germination). The Pinto bean plant populations ranged from 21,490 (34.1% germination) to 34,848 (35.2% germination), far below the target seeding rates. Similarly, the Yellow eye bean populations were far below the target seeding rates, they ranged from 20,328 (37.4% germination) to 25,846 (23.5% germination). Interestingly, all varieties showed the seeding rates went from low to high although none met the target seeding rates. The actual plant populations of the medium and high seeding rates did not differ statistically from each other. There were no significant differences in the Pinto and Yellow eye bean seeding rate plant populations.

The yield and harvest moisture were not significantly different between the Black turtle bean seeding rate treatments (Table 13 can be found in Attachment E). The medium seeding rate yielded the highest at 3247 lbs ac-1, and the high Black turtle bean seeding rate resulted in the lowest yield (2596 lbs ac-1). All of the harvest moistures were above the recommended storage moisture of 13%, so all samples had to be dried down. There were no significant differences between actual plant populations, yield, and harvest moisture in the Pinto and Yellow eye bean seeding rate treatments. The high seeding rate treatment of both the Pinto (1342 lbs ac-1) and Yellow eye beans (929 lbs ac-1) yielded the highest. All of the seeding rate moisture levels for the Pinto beans were above the recommended 13% moisture for storage, and therefore did not have to be dried down. Only the Yellow eye beans had harvest moisture below 13%.

Black Turtle beans had the highest overall average yield of 2885 lbs ac-1; 1940 lbs ac-1 more than the average yield of the Pinto beans (945 lbs ac-1) and 2178 lbs ac-1 more than the Yellow Eye beans (707 lbs ac-1) average yield (Figure 3 can be found in Attachment E).

Dry Bean Planting Date Trials

Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh, VT

There were no interactions between planting date and bean type at this location.

Impact of Planting Date

Dry bean yields were significantly different across planting dates (Table 20, Figure 4 can both be found in Attachment G). The highest yields were observed from the June planting dates. The lowest yielding planting date was 29-May (820 lbs ac-1), but was not significantly different from the 22-May planting date.

Impact of Dry Bean Type

Dry bean yields varied significantly by type (Table 21, Figure 5 can both be found in Attachment G). The highest yielding dry bean was the Black Turtle beans with 2240 lbs ac-1. Yields of Yellow Eye and Pinto did not differ significantly in yield.

Morningstar Meadows Farm, Glover, VT

Planting Date x Variety Interactions

There were significant interactions between planting date and variety for dry bean plant population and the number of pods per plant. These interactions indicate that dry bean varieties respond differently across planting dates. The highest population counts of the Yellow Eye beans were on 7-Jun, conversely King of the Early beans had the lowest plant population on 7-Jun (Figure 6 can both be found in Attachment G). The highest plant population of the King of the Early beans was the first planting date (29-May). The third planting date (12-Jun) had the lowest Yellow Eye bean populations. During mechanical cultivation, several bean plants were damage or pulled out which could have contributed to the fluctuation of bean plant populations.

The number of pods counted on the Yellow Eye bean plants gradually increased with the planting dates; lowest number pods were counted on the first planting and the highest number were counted on the third planting date (Figure 7 can be found in Attachment G). The King of the Early had the highest pod count on the first planting date (29-May). Interestingly, the King of the Early pod numbers did not vary considerably across planting dates.

Impact of Planting Date

There were not significant differences in plant populations, pod number per plant, yield, harvest moisture, and test weight across planting dates (Table 22 can be found in Attachment G). Plant populations at harvest averaged 33,493 plants ac-1 for the trial. This population was roughly half of the seed rate (78,000 seeds ac-1). The 12-Jun planting date had the greatest number of pods per plant (15 pods) and was the highest yielding (1577 lbs ac-1) (Figure 8 can be found in Attachment G).

All planting dates had harvest moisture levels greater than 13%, necessary for proper storage, and therefore had to be dried down. The average test weight (60.4 lbs bu-1) for the trial was just above the industry standard of 60 lbs bu-1.

Impact of Variety

There were significant differences in plant populations and yield (Table 23, Figure 9 can be found in Attachment G). King of the Early had the highest plant population (36,494 plants ac-1) and yield (1467 lbs ac-1). There were no significant differences in the number of pods per plant, harvest moisture, and test weight.

Research conclusions:

It is important to remember that the results only represent one year of data but some important results can be gleaned from this single year of research. Five on-farm research trials at two locations were initiated as a part of this project. Development of outreach products from the research helped to expand the impact of the results to the farming community.

Trials evaluated a total of 19 heirloom varieties. Of the 19 varieties, Red Calypso did not reach maturity prior to harvest in either location hence making it not suitable for the region. Top yielding varieties included Rattlesnake, Spanish Tolasna, Tongue of Fire, Vermont Appaloosa, King of the Early, and Vermont Cranberry. The yields of these top performers ranged from approximately 800 to 1800 lbs of seed per acre. This project reported range of yields for heirloom dry beans which is information difficult to obtain. Through the process our team developed a seed sourcing document to help farmers procure heirloom bean seed.

Disease was prevalent on many of the heirloom varieties. Several of the diseases including Anthracnose were identified as being seedborne and highlighted the need for farmers to purchase certified seed when possible. Interestingly level of Anthracnose was not always correlated with lower yields. This season helped evaluate disease pressure under prime infection conditions (wet and cool). Hence varieties that could perform well in this adverse year should be evaluated in future years of experiments. 

Planting dates ranging from mid-May to mid-June were evaluated at Borderview Farm in Alburgh and Morningstar Farm in Glover. Preliminary results from both locations suggest that a mid-June planting date maximizes both yield and test weight. A later planting is common by growers but can be risky if an early frost occurs. This study supported the common practice of planting beans late (mid-June). 

Seed treatments were applied at the Alburgh location but poor stand did not allow for evaluation of results.

In the seeding rate trial,  the actual plant populations were much lower than the target seeding rates for Yellow eye, Pinto, and Black turtle beans. There were several factors that may have limited germination rates including poor seed quality, low moisture at planting time, and planter error. The Black turtle beans had a much higher germination rate compared to the other two varieties. The relatively small seed size of the black bean could have been a factor by requiring less moisture to germinate thus resulting better germination rates.  Obtaining adequate stands was an issue for this project and remains to be the primary issue that dry bean growers face in the region.

Outcomes for the project include development of baseline data on variety adaption, pest issues, planting dates, and seeding rates for heirloom dry beans in the region. Attendees of the Annual Northern Grain Growers Conference were surveyed to determine the impact that the project results would have on their farm. Of the 142 attendees, 42 indicated that they were growing dry beans as part of their farming operation. Of the 32 attendees that participated in the dry bean session,  100% indicated that they learned a new practice or information, 73% indicated that they would implement a new practice that was learned as a result of the session. Practices to be implemented included purchasing certified seed, testing seed germination, planting at heavier seeding rates, harvesting earlier, and saving only high quality seed. Farmers also indicated that more information on harvesting techniques (66%), cleaning and storing (43%), pest management (75%), seeding and planting dates (38%), and stand establishment (80%) would help further improve their yields and quality. Hence our work has only just begun!

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

March 18, 2015- Grain Growers Conference, Essex, VT. Survey attendees of Northern Grain Growers Association annual conference about their experience and interest in growing dry beans, specifically heirloom beans. Of the 133 attendees, 56 indicated they were growing or interested in growing dry beans. Of these 38% were interested in learning more about growing heirloom dry beans. Farmers indicated that they needed to know more about variety performance (58%), agronomic practices (45%), pest managemetn strategies (46%), harvest techniques (67%), and cleaning/processing (64%) to be successful with dry beans.

April 2015- Heirloom dry bean seed source list was created (see attachment Heirloom Dry Bean Seed Sources) and disseminated to known growers.

July 23, 2015- Annual Crops & Soils Field Day, Alburgh, VT. Distributed bulletin produced on sourcing heirloom dry bean seed. Toured the dry bean research plots and discussed dry bean production and answered questions from growers. There were 236 attendees.

September 5, 2015 – Developed a disease key for growers (see attachment Dry Bean Disease Cheat Sheet) and a factsheet on potato leafhoppers in dry beans (see attachment Potato Leafhopper Factsheet).

September 10, 2015 – Growing Dry Beans in Vermont – Host field day at Morningstar Meadows Farm in Glover, VT to highlight dry bean production, harvest, and post-harvest handling strategies (see attachment Morningstar Meadow Field Day Flyer). Distributed Heirloom Dry Bean Seed Source, Disease Cheat Sheet, and Potato Leafhopper factsheets to attendees. There were 39 in attendance.

March 10, 2016 – Published 4 research reports and posted online at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil. Print versions of the following reports were also made available at conferences, workshops, and other outreach events attended by team members.  The following research reports were posted online: Research Report – Heirloom Dry Bean Variety Trials, Research Report – Dry Bean Planting Date Trials, Research Report – Dry Bean Seeding Rate Trial, Research Report – Dry Bean Pest Scouting Report.

March 15, 2016 – Developed first version of the Heirloom Dry Bean Production Guide and posted online at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil. Print versions of the following reports were also made available at conferences, workshops, and other outreach events attended by team members.  

March 17, 2016 – Hosted session on Producing Heirloom Dry Beans at the annual Northern Grain Growers Association Conference.Included information on pest management, seed saving techniques, seed sources, and agronomic practices. Surveyed participants to determine if heirloom dry bean production will increase and if new practices will be implemented.

 

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

An economic analysis was not performed as part of this experience. However it is clear that growing dry beans presents significant challenges to farmers in the Northeast. Heirloom varieties have yield ranges from hundreds to thousands of pounds per acre. It is clear that a premium price would need to be secured to allow a farmer to generate sufficient income per acre when producing some of the heirloom dry bean varieties. Overall disease and poor stands remain a significant production issue for many dry bean farmers. Overcoming disease, improving seed quality, and improving early season vigor would lead to higher yields and better economic returns for farmers.

Farmer Adoption

This one year project produced significant information for the dry bean farming community. Information in regards to the project and project results were widely distributed. Scouting bean fields throughout the state also allowed for significant interaction with farmers and provided a conduit for sharing of research and findings. These project strategies led to farmers adopting practices and techniques developed/discovered through this short term project.

As an example, three farmers have begun testing the germination rate of their seed lots prior to planting. From this information they are adjusting seeding rates to account for low or high germination results. One farmer has increased his seeding rates from 4 or 5 seeds per foot to a standard 7 seeds per foot. One farmer realized that pulling the beans earlier and allowing them to dry in windrows (or grain bin) would allow for earlier harvest, less shatter loss, and less risk overall. Two farmers have adopted at least one new heirloom variety that was evaluated in this project. Lastly all farmers in the survey became aware of disease pressure that was impacting their bean crops. Farmers are interested in preventative strategies and work is being done to investigate potential control options.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Areas needing additional study

It is clear that growing dry beans presents significant challenges to farmers in the Northeast. Understanding heirloom yield potential is critical to a farmer’s success. Variety evaluation results indicated that heirloom varieties have yields ranging from approximately 200 to 1800 lbs per acre. The heirloom beans varied in susceptibility to diseases. Additional evaluation of heirloom varieties is necessary to accurately predict yield potential and pest susceptibility.

Planting date studies preliminarily indicate that a mid-June planting date will yield almost double that of a planting date in late-May. However later planting dates can be risky due to increased chance of frosts prior to the crop reaching maturity.  Additional years of planting date evaluation would help to develop a more accurate range of adequate planting dates for our region.

Seeding rate studies were largely inconclusive due to poor trial establishment. However it was clear that establishing adequate stands of dry beans was difficult for farms and for the researchers as well. Poor seed quality was a major contributor to poor stands but additional research is needed to fully understand stand failures and strategies to overcome this obstacle. As an example, this study found that seed germination rates ranged from nearly 0% to almost 100% depending on the variety and seed source.

A number of primary and secondary fungal and bacterial diseases were documented on dry beans in Vermont. Primary diseases included anthracnose, white mold, root rots, and bacterial blight. Potato leafhopper was identified as a primary pest of dry beans in Vermont. It is unclear what impact these diseases have on seed yield and quality. It was clear that some varieties were completely decimated but others were more tolerant to some of the pests. Future research will be required to provide adequate integrated pest management options for growers to manage these pest issues.

 

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.