Dry Edible Bean Production Systems

Mixed dry edible beans

Information about tillage systems from UNL Extension Publications:

Choosing the Right Tillage System for Row Crop Production: Systematically consider 19 criteria, in addition to the cost of conversion, in choosing a tillage system for your farming operation.

Ecofarming: Spring Row Crop Planting and Weed Control in Winter Wheat Stubble, G551: Weed control, stubble management and planters for planting in winter wheat stubble.

Planting and Harvesting Information for Nebraska Crops, G1757 Information on the normal practices of planting and harvesting crops grown in Nebraska.

Factors to consider in production decisions:

(From Dry Bean Production and Pest Management, 2nd Edition)

Crop rotation

Dry bean producers practice crop rotation on most fields to alleviate disease problems associated with monocropping systems. There are numerous benefits to crop rotations, both direct and indirect:

  • They reduce disease, insect and weed problems;
  • they aid in maintenance of organic matter and fertilit levels in soil;
  • they regulate the use of soil nutrients throughout the soil profile; they distribute labor and machinery requirements over the seaseon; and
  • they increase crop yield.

The length of the growing season, water availability, problem soils, profitable markets, and federal farm programs all combine to limit the choice of crops to be included in rotations with dry beans.

When selecting a rotation, the long-term viability of that rotation to reduce pest pressure, as well as its economic viability, must be considered. The following concerns require careful consideration to develop a successful bean crop rotation, especially in relation to previous crops:

  • disease management
  • insect management
  • weed and volunteer crop control
  • resistant weed management
  • herbicide carryover
  • soil nutrient management
  • residue management
  • seedbed preparation
  • harvest and planting schedules
  • frost risk
  • economic return
  • residual soil water

(From article by Stephen D. Miller, Drew Lyon, and Mark Brick)


The planting operation and preparation for planting set the stage for a successful dry edible bean crop. A low quality planting operation, with resulting poor crop stand, cannot be overcome by later crop management and full crop potential will be lost. Planting considerations include:

  • Planting date
  • Seed depth
  • Row width
  • Established plant population
  • Plant high quality seed
  • Seed population and field emergence rate
  • Seed inoculation
  • Planter selection operation
  • Post-planting problems

(From article by John A. Smith and Mark A. Brick)


Direct harvest demonstrationThere are two general types of dry bean harvest systems currently used in North America: the conventional system that utilizes undercutting, rodding, or windrowing, then combining; and the direct harvest system in which the only field operation is one pass of the combines. Some growing regions, including Michigan and the Canadians provinces, are successfully using direct harvest systems for a substantial part of their dry bean production. Very little dry edible bean acreage is currently directed harvested in the central High Plains. But direct harvest is expected to increase in popularity, particularly as more varieties are introduced with upright architecture.

Harvest SystemRelative AdvantagesRelative Disadvantages
Direct Combine
  • One operation for minimum equipment, labor, input cost
  • Reduced weather risk from rain and wind.
  • Reduces soil taken into combine.
  • Stubble remains after harvest for wome wind erosion protection.
  • Must be prepared to use harvest aid desiccant to kill any green bean or weed plants.
  • Time of combining will be later.
  • Field must be very level, free of rocks.
  • Must have correct combine header equipment or field losses can be high.
  • Time of combining will be earlier.
  • Bean plants, weeds, and bean seed can be dried to uniform level.
  • Growers are comfortable with known.
  • Can have high field loss if winds occur after cutting, or seed discoloration if rain occurs after cutting or windrowing.
  • Requires 2-4 field operations, increasing labor, equipment, and overall input costs.

(From article by John A. Smith)