Organic Dried Bean Production in Mid-Atlantic

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: general grain crops


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture
  • Pest Management: flame
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    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 CSA’s 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, then beans of different maturity times could be planted and harvested together.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This research proposes to explore the production of dried edible beans in the Mid-Atlantic. Currently over 80% of dried beans are grown in the mid west (USDA-ERS, 2005) with a small portion grown in New York State. The Eastern Shore of Maryland is dominated by agronomic crop and poultry production. Vegetable production is expanding, and many growers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves through a niche crop. Researching the means for growing a product like dried bean mixes would be appealing to both grain farmers and vegetable farmers. This crop can also be marketed through the many CSA’s on the Eastern Shore and throughout Maryland. 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.

    In the regions where dried edible beans are grown on large acreages, research priorities have been defined to assist researchers. In New York (via Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Dried Bean Advisory Committee) one of the research priorities is finding organic markets for dried beans. This proposal aims to determine the success of using CSA’s and Farmers’ Markets as direct marketing options for dried beans. Additionally, the Michigan Bean Commission and the Michigan Bean Shippers Association identified Organic dried bean production management and a research priority. This proposal aims to determine organic production methods for dried beans as well as develop an enterprise budget to help farmers determine the risks of growing such a crop.

    Organic desiccation strategies are limited, however can also be applicable to other organically grown crops such as milk thistle (University of Saskatchawan) and cotton. This research proposes to use two weed management products, 20% vinegar and clove leaf oil (Matran® EC, EcoSMART Technologies) as desiccation agents to easer harvesting and improve yields. Two rates of each product will be used and compared to a control.

    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.