Increasing the viability of heirloom dry bean production in the Northeast: Part II
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. Although white cooking beans have been successfully grown in the Northeast for generations, heirloom dry beans including, are more challenging to grow locally. Local farmers have struggled to obtain consistent high yields and quality. Their primary issues include acquisition of high quality seed, adequate stand establishment, disease management, and reaching proper maturity at harvest.
Development of regionally adapted production practices will assist farmers with producing the higher value heirloom dry beans. In 2015, our team was awarded a Partnership grant titled “Increasing the Viability of Heirloom Dry Bean Production in the Northeast” (ONE15-234), which we resumbitted to collect a second year of data. Our project is focused on key agronomics that can quickly help farmers improve the yields and quality of heirloom dry beans. The objectives are to: 1. Screen heirloom varietals and develop a list of top performing lines for the region; 2. Develop optimum planting dates and seeding strategies to obtain adequate plant populations; 3. Determine primary pest issues and identify control options, and 4. Evaluate biological seed treatments for control of early season diseases.
In 2016 heirloom dry bean research trials were established at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT and Morningstar Farms, Glover, VT. These trials included evaluation of heirloom varieties, planting dates, seeding rates, seed treatments, and planter types. In addition, six Vermont bean producer’s fields were scouted several times during the growing to identify disease and insect pests in this crop. Three field days hosted by collaborating farms shared dry bean production information with approximately 300 stakeholders. Currently research data is being processed to create farmer friendly research reports and to prepare outreach materials for distribution to the farming community at winter events. In addition, video footage taken during the field season is being edited to finalize production videos.
Our project is focused on key agronomics that can quickly help farmers improve the yields and quality of heirloom dry beans. The objectives are to:
1.Screen heirloom varietals and develop a list of top performing lines for the region;
2.Develop optimum planting dates and seeding strategies to obtain adequate plant populations;
3.Determine primary pest issues and identify control options;
4.Evaluate biological seed treatments for control of early season diseases.
In early June 2016, heirloom bean variety trials were established at Morningstar Farms, Glover, VT (12 varieties) and Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT (18 varieties). The experiment design was a randomized complete block design with 4 replicates. Plot size was 5′ x 20′. Both farms provided cultivation and managed trial with standard organic production practices. Bean growth and development was recorded and beans were scouted several times throughout the season for disease and insect pests. Samples of plant disease and pest damage were taken and identified with the help of the UVM Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. At the time of harvest yield, moisture, test weight, plant height, plant maturity, pod distance to ground, and disease rating was recorded for each variety.
On June 1, 2016 a dry bean seeding rate trial was planted at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT. The trial evaluated three varieties (Yellow eyes, Black turtle, and King of the early) at three different seeding rates-rates that varied depending on the variety. The experiment design was a randomized complete block design with 4 replicates. Plot size was 5′ x’ 20′. At the time of harvest yield, moisture, test weight, plant height, and disease rating was recorded for each seeding rate and variety.
Beginning in May dry bean planting date trials were established at Morningstar Farms, Glover, VT and at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT. The first planting date in Alburgh was on May 20, 2016 and continued weekly for 3 weeks. Three dry bean varieties were evaluated across the 3 planting dates; Black turtle, King of the Early, and Yellow Eyes.
To evaluate the impact of biological treatments on stand establishment, half of each plot (5’x 20’) was inoculated with the seed treatment Mycostop ™ (Streptomyces griseoviridis Strain K61). The experimental design was a randomized complete block design in split plots with 4 replicates. Planting date was the main plot and variety the subplot. Plant emergence was recorded and populations taken. Bean plants were scouted for plant disease and insect pests throughout the growing season and at the time of harvest yield, moisture, test weight, plant height, and disease rating was recorded for each planting date. The trial at Morningstar farms consisted of 2 varieties (Yellow eyes and King of the early) planted weekly for three weeks beginning on May 25, 2016. Plant emergence, populations were taken and at harvest, yield, moisture, test weight, plant height, and disease rating was recorded for each planting date. Throughout bean growth plots were scouted for disease and insect pests. Samples of plant disease and pest damage were taken and identified with the help of the UVM Plant Diagnostic Laboratory.
On June 17, 2016 a trial to evaluate the impact of planter type on dry bean stand establishment planted at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT. The trial looked at Yellow eyes planted using either a John Deere 1750 corn planter with soybean cups or a Monosem NG Plus 2 row precision air planter (Edwardsville, KS). The experiment design was a randomized complete block design with 4 replicates. Plot size was 10′ x 20′. Plant populations were taken, and at the time of harvest yield, moisture, test weight, plant height, and disease rating was recorded for each planting type.
Survey of Heirloom Dry Bean Pests
Beans were scouted for disease and insect pests at the following farms; Morningstar Farms, Glover VT, Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT, Yoder Farm, Danby, VT, Boyden Farms, Cambridge, VT, Gleason Grains, Bridport, VT and Van de Weert Farms, Ferrisburgh, VT. Samples of plant disease and pest damage were taken and identified with the help of the UVM Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. Several farms inadvertently planted anthracnose contaminated seed, which in the case of one farm resulted in a complete loss of the crop. The primary insect pest in dry beans identified this season was potato leafhoppers. Through scouting the variety trials, we identified varieties more susceptible to leaf hopper damage (hopper burn). We are currently compiling all of the scouting data and writing a 2016 scouting report.
Currently data is being processed for all experiments. Farmer friendly reports will be developed and distributed at winter grain meetings. Video footage was taken over the growing season and currently the material is being edited and compiled into short videos. Once information is compiled the Northeast Dry Bean Production Guide will be updated.
Overall the project progressed as planned. Seed quality was less of an issue this year in our trials because we planted saved seed from last year’s trials and eliminated the varieties that had severe disease infection. The warm and dry conditions throughout the growing season created ideal conditions for beans and kept disease pressure low. We did however see significant leafhopper pressure and saw that leafhoppers had preference for some varieties over others.
- March 17, 2016- Grain Growers Conference, Essex, VT. Farmer Sean O’Donnell gave a talk, which included his experiences growing dry beans on his farm in Parkman, ME. The UVM NWCS program presented research results from the 2015 dry bean trials. Surveyed attendees of Northern Grain Growers Association annual conference about their experience and interest in growing dry beans, specifically heirloom beans. 142 attendees
- April 2016- Finalized research plans and plot designs with Roger Rainville at Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh, VT and with Seth Johnson at Morningstar Farms, Glover, VT. Having in-person meetings, email, and phone conversations with each grower completed this task.
- May and June 2016- Bean variety, planting date, planter type and seeding rate trials were planted at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, VT and Morningstar Farms, Glover, VT. Video footage on planting was recorded at both farms. Began scouting bean fields for pests and diseases.
- June 28, 2016-Grain Research Tour, Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh, VT. Distribute bulletin produced on sourcing heirloom dry bean seed, scouting report, and 2015 dry bean research reports. These were all materials completed in 2015. Toured the research plots and discussed dry bean production and answered questions from growers. There were 39 in attendance.
- July 28, 2016- Annual Crops & Soils Field Day, Alburgh, VT. Distribute bulletin produced on sourcing heirloom dry bean seed, scouting report, and 2015 dry bean research reports. Toured the research plots and discussed dry bean production and answered questions from growers. Held an afternoon session on scouting for pests and diseases. Highlighted potato leafhopper damage. There were 185 attendees. Continued scouting producer’s dry bean fields for plant disease and pests.
- August 2016- Continued scouting producers dry bean fields for pests and diseases and began identifying samples with help from the Plant Diagnostic Laboratory at UVM.
- September 2016 –Harvested bean trials; collected harvest data and harvested beans for in lab assessment of diseases and pests. Final assessment of producer’s dry bean fields for plant disease and pests.
- October 11, 2016, DryBeanWorkshop was held at Morningstar Farms in Glover, VT, to highlight dry bean production, harvest, and post-harvest handling strategies. There were 28 in attendance.
- November 30, 2016, Growing Heirloom Dry Beans in the Northeast – a presentation was given at the Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network Conference held in Moncton, New Brunswick. There were 35 farmers in attendance including farmers from ME, VT, NY, and several provinces.
- November 2016-February 2017- Over the remaining project period we will continue to consolidate, analyze, and report on research data collected during the growing season. We will publish research results and scouting report online and have copied ready for distribution at winter events. In January/February we will work on updating the Northeast Guide to Dry Bean Production. Print versions will be available at winter grain conferences in NY, VT, and ME. Final edits to the 3 videos (planting, cleaning, harvesting) will be completed and uploaded onto our YouTube by the end of the project period.
- March 23, 2017- We have planned to host 2 sessions on Producing Dry Beans at the annual Northern Grain Growers Association conference, which attracts over 200 diversified growers. We will include our research information on dry bean pests and disease, seed saving techniques, seed sources, and agronomic practices. A guest speaker from MI will also talk on producing heirloom beans.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
- This season farmers continued to have difficulty-sourcing disease free dry bean seed in our region. Some farmers experienced 100% crop loss from poor quality seed. We worked with these farmers to figure out the issue causing disease. This has helped us focus our work on seed quality testing prior to purchasing seed. We hope to conduct future work on seed treatments focused on seedborne diseases.
- We continue to develop information on heirloom dry bean varieties that are high yielding and also less susceptible to arthropods and diseases. We have included new varieties in this year’s trial and eliminated poorly performing varieties from 2015 trials. This information is critical in helping farmers develop economically viable bean production.
- Several plant diseases and insect pests were identified in trial plots as well as producer’s dry bean fields. This again is critical information to help farmers understand both how to manage or prevent diseases and arthropod pests that can severely limit yields. We discovered that certain heirloom bean varieties are more susceptible to potato leafhoppers. This needs to be further explored in future research.
Owner of Borderview Farm
146 Line Road
Alburgh, Vermont 05440
United States of America
Office Phone: 802-796-3292
MorningStar Meadows Farm
170 Dwinell Drive
Glover, Vermont 05839
United States of America
Office Phone: 802-249-6682