Edible Bean School: 2022 management tips

Photo: Dennis Lange, Manitoba Agriculture

Depending on where you farm, the story of the 2021 edible bean varied across the country.

Growers in Eastern Canada were the recipients of excellent growing conditions that produced above-average yields in most classes. The story in Western Canada was much different, however, as growers endured a dry, difficult year that produced below-average crops.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Edible Bean School, we look back at the 2021 season for management insights and tips growers can can take to the field this spring.

In the east, Hensall Co-op origination manager Wade Bickell says every class, with the exception of adzuki beans (97 per cent of average) yielded an above-average crop — cranberry beans produced 2,950 lb/ac.  (124 per cent of average) while white beans checked in at 2,599 lb/ac (113 per cent of average).

Bickell says weather played a key role in 2021 success. Growers took advantage of spring conditions and planted early into dry, warm soils. Ideal early weather produced fast-growing, growthy crops that had high white mould potential when conditions turned wet in late June and the rain kept coming in July.

Bickell tips his hat to growers who saw the yield potential of the crop and were proactive with fungicide applications to control white mould before it could gain a foothold in their fields. His key takeaway from 2022 is to be prepared and take advantage of opportunities. “If we’re looking at warm, moist soils into a good forecast, get the seed in the ground and get them up and going.” he advises.

In the west, Manitoba Agriculture pulse specialist Dennis Lange reports a tremendous range in yields, depending on moisture availability and drought stress. Overall, Manitoba was very dry. In areas that did get moisture, growers harvested crops that yielded 1,600 to 1,700 lbs/ac, but in stressed areas, harvests shrunk to 500 to 600 lb/ac. (Story continues after the video.)

Preliminary estimates from Manitoba Agriculture peg the average for all bean types at just over 1,200 lb/ac, well below the 1,700 lb/ac average. “But considering how dry things were I think growers are just happy to put that one in the books and move on to next year,” says Lange.

In the video, Lange offers his assessment of an odd phenomenon that occurred in some edible bean fields in 2021. In these fields, growers saw late-season moisture after drought stress result in a second round of flowering and regrowth in beans that already had ripe pods. He says the very unusual growing conditions were the main factor driving the regrowth and unless 2022 mimics the same conditions, a repeat performance is highly unlikely.

Looking forward to 2022, Lange does note that growers in the bean-growing region may be able to take advantage of high residual nitrate levels by planting into oat or wheat ground. If fields have 90 to 100 lb of residual nitrogen left in these soils, dry beans would be a good fit. However, he does add that maintaining rotations is important and changing rotations just to take advantage of fertility could create long-term challenges.

Click here for more Edible Bean School episodes.