Mixed dry edible beans

Dry Edible Beans

The latest Extension information about dry bean production and management practices from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nebraska's Dry Bean Industry

Nebraska dry edible bean producers plant anywhere from 140,000 to 200,000 acres of beans in a typical year. This production is concentrated in western Nebraska.

Nebraska's national rankings in dry bean production (Nebraska Dept. of Agriculture, 2008):

  • 4th in production of all dry edible beans
  • 1st in production of great northern beans
  • 2nd in production of pinto beans

Learn More About Dry Beans:


Dry bean researchers meet at Scottsbluff to plan for future projects

Not long after the public attended the Dry Bean Field Tour at Scottsbluff to hear about the latest research into dry edible beans, a group of dry bean scientists from around the nation met here to set priorities for the next five years of research.

Fourteen researchers from a half-dozen states met at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center. They are members of W-2150, a group that plans multi-state regional research efforts that use U.S. Department of Agriculture funding. About 20 institutions are represented in W-2150, according to Mark Brick, a dry bean breeding specialist at Colorado State University.
The research project committee met at Scottsbluff to prepare a proposal for the next five years of research funding and also write a final report on the prior five-year project. In addition to plant breeders, the group included plant pathologists, agronomists, nutritionists and scientists who study the health benefits of dry beans – their value in helping to prevent cancer, diabetes, and various other chronic diseases.

Brick said the five-year project is administered through CSREES, the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, an agency in the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The project is titled "Breeding Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) for Resistance to Abiotic and Biotic Stresses, Sustainable Production, and Enhanced Nutritional Value."

Main objectives for the next five years include improving yields by boosting resistance to plant stresses such as diseases, drought and heat; promoting human health and well-being through better genomics; and implementing sustainable and profitable ag systems that conserve natural resources and protect the environment.

The CSREES funding helps support some of the efforts of Carlos Urrea, dry bean breeding specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, to develop new lines of great northern, pinto and other market class dry beans that are more resistant to drought and heat as well as diseases. Urrea's work is often done in cooperation with USDA and other land-grant institutions.

The Scottsbluff meeting also gave the researchers an opportunity to tour local plots involved in multi-state regional bean variety trials. Regional trials allow plant breeders to see how bean lines perform in various locations. They also inspected Urrea's experimental plots.

Dry bean growers surveyed about great northern bean production

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is surveying Nebraska dry edible bean producers to gather information about great northern bean production practices. Growers can complete the survey online at http://go.unl.edu/beansurvey. Scanning the QR code beside this article with a smart phone also will open the survey site.

In addition, paper surveys can be obtained from UNL, filled out, and mailed back. Contact Jessica Johnson, Extension Educator – Ag Economics at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, telephone 308-632-1247. The paper surveys can be folded and returned via business reply mail (no stamp required).

According to Johnson, the survey will only take a few minutes to complete. It is intended to verify data about great northern bean production in Nebraska and update information about typical panhandle dry bean operations: practices such as row spacing and types of fungicide applications, for example. The data also will tell UNL researchers whether results from UNL variety trial plots accurately reflects the results that Panhandle growers see in their own fields around the Panhandle.

Johnson stressed that all responses are fully anonymous. Growers' identities are not collected on the survey forms.

Understanding changing seasonal dry bean price patterns

A shortage of quality dry edible beans in the Panhandle has contributed to higher prices for all varieties of beans through the fall. However, rising prices this time of year are not the norm. A recent report by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists outlined price pattern shifts for area commodities, including dry edible beans.

Two time periods were analyzed, 1985/86 through 2006/07 and 2007/08 through 2012/13, for pinto and great northern varieties. The study noted that there have been small changes in annual bean price patterns.

Why Direct Harvest Dry Edible Beans?

In recent years more growers in the central high plains are moving toward direct harvest of dry edible beans instead of the conventional method of undercutting or rodding, windrowing, and then combining. Direct harvest is accomplished by one pass with the combine. Other growing regions such as North Dakota, Michigan and Canada are using direct harvest for the majority of their dry bean harvest.

John Thomas, Extension Educator, Box Butte County, and John A. Smith, Professor Emeritus, discuss reasons to consider direct harvest, factors that keep some growers from trying it, and data from on-farm trials.

Planting for Direct Harvest of Dry Edible Beans — Some Dos and Don'ts

Direct harvest of dry edible beans is not new to the United States. It is the most common harvest method for dry edible beans in Michigan and North Dakota. But producers in western Nebraska, northeast Colorado, and southeast Wyoming are still discovering the details that will make the system work well for them. Read recommendations for direct harvest related practices to consider for the 2013 bean growing season, from Professor Emeritus John Smith and Extension Educator John Thomas.

Contact Us

Carlos Urrea
UNL Dry Bean Breeding Specialist

David Ostdiek
UNL Communications Associate