Date: For the week of November 23, 2014
By Mark Watson, Panhandle No-till Educator
I would like to start off by wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. We’ve all got a lot to be thankful for. Last week I wrote about how we drilled our edible bean crop this year in 7.5 inch rows with an air seeder. Prior to this year we had been planting our beans in 15 inch rows with a planter.
I wanted to share with you some observations I made during the growing season and some changes we plan to make next year. Let’s start by looking at the edible beans in our cropping rotation.
We have been planting our edible beans in a crop rotation of winter wheat, corn, edible bean, then back to winter wheat. This is a pretty standard rotation in our area. The drawbacks we have observed with this rotation is trying to establish a good plant stand of the edible beans in the corn residues. The other drawback to this rotation is trying to get the following winter wheat crop seeded in a timely manner if the edible bean harvest is delayed.
As I mentioned last week we had our corn stalks grazed by cattle in all our fields but one where we seeded the edible bean crop. I think it is important to graze the corn stalks prior to seeding edible beans in a no till crop production system. I have observed over the years that trying to establish an edible bean crop in corn residues that haven’t been grazed is difficult. Edible beans don’t like cool, wet soils when planted. If we happen to have a cool, wet, early June planting period, getting good stand establishment can be difficult.
I would recommend grazing your corn stalks so there isn’t as much residues in the field at planting. The other problem with corn residues is they tend to move around and get blown into piles during the winter and spring months. Getting good seed to soil contact through these piles of residues can be difficult.
Our solution to this problem is to change our cropping rotation. We plan to move our irrigated rotation to a winter wheat, edible bean, corn, field pea crop rotation on our irrigated acres. We will then plant our edible beans into winter wheat stubble which will make plant establishment easier as we will be drilling into winter wheat stubble rather than corn residues.
We also plan to plant forage crops following our winter wheat crop which will be used for grazing. The grazing of the forage crops will allow us to control the amount of residues in the field for edible bean seeding. This approach should allow for good edible bean plant establishment and improve the health of our soil by growing this diversified forage crop. At this point I haven’t decided which forages we will plant.
This past year where we had the corn stalks grazed and we had a good edible bean crop established I was very pleased with our weed control. The fast crop canopy we achieved with the 7.5 inch row spacing and high plant population really worked for minimizing any weed pressure.
One concern I have with the narrow row spacing and high population is delayed maturity of the edible bean crop. It seemed we slowed the development of the edible bean crop with the higher population in narrower rows. I suspect it was a combination of the high population, narrow rows, corn residues, and cooler than normal summer temperatures we had this year that led to a delayed crop maturity.
Another concern I have is white mold disease. We had a 2.5 inch rainfall on a couple of our edible bean fields around the 10th of September. This heavy rainfall event resulted in white mold disease development in these fields. We didn’t irrigate these fields following this rainfall for the remainder of the growing season. This is the first time I can remember having a white mold problem in an edible bean field on our farm.
The fields of edible beans where we didn’t have this late season rainfall event didn’t have any white mold issues. I don’t think this white mold problem will persist in our edible bean production system. I think it was more a case of circumstances being conducive to this white mold outbreak with the heavy rainfall coming at the end of the growing season that led to the white mold disease problem this year.
Next week I’ll look at the direct harvest of this year’s edible bean crop and what we learned from our drilled bean crop this year.