How Beans are Grown
Planting the Seed
Under ideal conditions, American-grown bean products can be planted and harvested within 90 to 120 days. In a climate such as exists in the United States, varieties that require more than 120 days are normally not planted because of the risk of frost and freeze damage.
The bean seed is planted in the spring, when the soil has warmed to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit – the ideal temperature for seed germination. The use of modern precision planters guided by GPS assures a uniform plant population.
Once the plant has matured to about 12 to 18 inches, it begins to develop small flowers that vary in color depending on the bean type. The flowers are followed by pods, within which the small beans begin to take shape.
One or two weeks before harvest, the plants turn a golden yellow. The leaves drop. And with just the stems and pods remaining, harvesting begins.
The American bean harvest begins in August and continues in various parts of the country until late October.
One of the reasons America leads the world in dry bean production is that the equipment used for harvesting is the most modern and technically advanced in the world.
Although equipment varies from region to region, most dry bean farmers use knife and windrow attachments on their tractors, special bean combines, direct-cut Flex Heads or any of a number of all-crop machines that have been specially altered to preserve the quality of the production.
These harvesters are fast, careful and clean, and the result is a bean harvest as high in quality as it is in yield.
Processing and Quality Control
When the beans arrive at the elevator for processing and packaging, they are tested according to moisture content and percentage of damaged beans foreign material,off type beans,odor,size and overall appearance. After the beans are tested, they’re carefully cleaned. Again, advanced technology is at work. Sophisticated gravity tables, and Central Bean utilizes the latest color sorting technology available to help eliminate defects and foreign material scanning and screening devices make sure that bits and pieces of pods and stems are removed, along with stones, soil and other foreign material.
Finally, the beans are placed in storage to await loading and shipment to locations throughout the world.
Dry Bean Research – A Commitment to the Future
One reason the American bean industry continues to grow and prosper is the strong commitment to research. Currently, at least 16 major universities are doing extensive dry bean research to develop new varieties of insect – and disease-resistant dry beans. And research on nitrogen fixation, drought tolerance and the effects of soil compaction on dry bean root growth also contributes to the ultimate goal of developing higher quality, more cost-effective dry bean crops.