Date: For the week of November 30, 2014
By Mark Watson, Panhandle No-till Educator
One of the reasons we drilled our edible beans in 7.5 inch rows this year was to aid in direct harvest of the edible bean crop. Our thought was to plant the beans in narrower rows which would force the architecture of the beans even more upright. We felt the beans would respond by setting the pods higher on the plant. This would allow us to more easily slide under the low setting pods with our cutter bar on our flex head.
We have a 925 John Deere flex head equipped with a Crary wind reel. We purchased this head back east in the soybean growing regions where this style of head was used extensively in the direct harvest of soybeans.
University of Nebraska Extension agent for Box Butte County is John Thomas. John has been instrumental in documenting harvest loss with direct harvest in edible beans for the past several years. John goes to each field and counts the number of beans on the soil surface behind the combine to determine harvest loss.
John’s results have shown a wide range of harvest loss with conventional harvest methods and direct harvest. John came to our fields this past year and determined we were losing between 150-180 lbs. of beans per acre with our direct harvest. These results compare to the best conventional harvest methods where 100 lbs. per acre is a very acceptable loss. There is always some harvest loss regardless of the harvest method.
I’m okay with some additional loss with direct harvest. I’ve always felt the advantages of less water use and less passes through the field with tillage equipment has more than offset the higher losses at harvest. Obviously I would like to lower our direct harvest loss.
John Smith, retired UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Engineer, teamed up with John Thomas this past year to promote a direct harvest demonstration. They contacted us about using one of our edible bean fields for their demonstration. We agreed to allow them to host their demonstration on our field. I felt this would be important to producers in our region to see for themselves the advantages of no till crop production and direct harvest of edible beans.
New Holland, John Deere, Gleaner, and Case IH equipment dealers all brought their newer combines with the state of the art draper heads to the demonstration. I was very curious to see how these newer machines handled direct harvest of edible beans compared to our older combine and head.
The turnout for the demonstration was excellent with approximately 100 area producers attending the afternoon demonstration. I think it was a very educational demonstration for area producers and I hope more of these demonstrations can be held in the future.
John Smith and John Thomas determined that the direct harvest losses behind these new combines ranged from 60-80 lbs. of harvest loss per acre. The low harvest loss with the newer combines and heads was outstanding. The lack of foreign material in the beans was outstanding as well.
I think we showed that no till crop production and direct harvest of edible beans is a very viable means of producing edible beans. If we can lower our water use, produce high quality beans, high yields, and use direct harvest methods to combine the edible beans it is a big benefit to our producers of edible beans in this region.
I would like to thank John Smith, John Thomas, the local New Holland, John Deere, Cash IH, and Gleaner dealers for their efforts in putting together this very educational demonstration. I would also like to thank Jan Pahl, our landlord for allowing this demonstration on her farm. I think our local producers left the demonstration knowing no till edible bean production and direct harvest of edible beans is a viable alternative to conventional production and harvest methods.