Precipitation Slows and Complicates Dry Bean Harvest

Picket combine
Figure 1. A grower using a Picket combine, specifically designed to harvest dry beans, and his regular combine took advantage of favorable conditions Sept. 30 to harvest dry beans in the Nebraska Panhandle. While conditions have generally been wet, this day there was little or no wind, and the dust hung in the air throughout the field. (Photo by Gary Stone)

Precipitation Slows and Complicates Dry Bean Harvest

Dry bean harvest in the Panhandle is going slow this season. In many years dry bean harvest is completed by the end of September; however, this year precipitation events over the last several weeks have slowed harvest and have now brought it to a standstill.

Typically, dry beans are undercut and windrowed to dry in the field prior to being combined.  John Thomas, Nebraska Extension Educator in Box Butte County, is working with growers on direct harvest methods.  This would eliminate the undercutting and windrowing. 

If a significant precipitation event occurs, the windrows have to dry in the field that much longer.  That is the case this season.  Last Saturday, September 30, was the first good day for growers to get into the field and harvest dry beans that had been cut.  Panhandle Extension also was in the field, getting a portion of the dry bean variety trial combined. Not all growers were able to take advantage of the nice day and get all of their beans combined. Some beans still remain as windrows in the field with a number of acres of dry beans still needing to be cut and windrowed. 

The forecast for more precipitation—rain mixed with snow—this Sunday, October 8, may complicate the 2017 dry bean harvest even more.

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