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CULTURE OF FIELD BEANS. *
J. W. WELLINGTON
Climate.- The bean is eminently adapted to the climate of New York State, particularly to the counties of the central and western portion where the growing season is long enough to afford thoro ripening and yet not usually favorable to the development of fungus and insect enemies.
Soils.-- Beans are often proclaimed as a crop suitable to poor soils, yet this assumption is never borne out by experience. A soil which cannot grow good wheat and clover cannot be expected to yield profitable returns. Well drained, light loams of a sandy nature are desirable. Very heavy and very light soil types are not satisfactory
the first difficult to prepare and till, the second lacking in humus and necessary food. It is generally conceded that the small-seeded varieties are better adapted to light soils than the large-seeded sorts. Limestone soils seem particularly favorable to the bean, as is shown by the location of the high-producing bean counties.
Rotation of crops.— The field bean should be grown in rotation with other farm crops — the members of the rotation depending upon the sort of crops grown in a locality. A three-year rotation often used is that of wheat, clover and beans. If potatoes and corn are included the period of rotation may be extended to four or more years, always having the bean follow the clover. Beans make an ideal intercrop for the newly-planted orchard and may be grown here in a rotation or continuously.
Preparation of soil.-- In planning for the bean crop it is advisable to have in mind a sod for turning under - a strong clover sod being best of all. Heavy types of soil should be plowed late in the fall or very early in the spring. Previous to actual planting the soil should be carefully harrowed and then leveled with a drag, thus leaving a smooth, even surface. During the period in which the land lies idle in the early spring frequent harrowing should be given to keep it in good tilth and maintain the water content. Needless to say that the better prepared seedbed will yield the greater crop.
Fertilizers. - Manure is a valuable fertilizer for the bean, but can be partly or even wholly replaced by turning under a green
Reprint of Circular No. 53, May 1, 1917.
cover crop. Cooperative experiments conducted by the Cornell Experiment Station demonstrated that abundant phosphoric acid is usually particularly profitable. Strong chemical fertilizers may be more wisely used on the crop preceding the bean and, if used on the latter, should be broadcast and thoroly harrowed in. In certain seasons the fertilizer may cause injury to the germinating seed, and it is the consensus of opinion of practical growers that applying chemicals to the preceding crop is the better practice. The bean is a legume and may be expected to thrive on moderately rich soil with little or no added nitrogen. In the poorer types of soil, humus, either in the form of manure or green crops, must be added in order to secure profitable returns. Lime must be present in sufficient quantity to promote a good growth of clover.
Planting.-- The bean should not be planted until all danger of frosts is past. The first week in June is early enough. If planted
early the young plants may be subjected to cold, rainy weather which will more than offset the gain of the early start. The bean is commonly sown in drills 28 to 30 inches apart. Two to three pecks of the small-seeded varieties are used per acre. Of the larger types, like the kidneys, from four to six pecks are required. Before planting a test of the germinating powers of the seed should be made. Special bean planters may be used for sowing the crop or an ordinary grain drill can be utilized. The seed should not be buried deeper than two inches except in extremely light soils.
Tillage.— Beans should be cultivated as soon as the rows show, but without covering or disturbing the little plants. Frequent shallow tillage should be given during the season of growth and if weeds are numerous they must be removed by hoes and hand. It is not advisable to work in the bean field while the leaves are damp or wet, for injuries at that time may open the way for disease.
Harvesting.- Machinery has entirely replaced expensive hand work in the bean harvest. Two rows are cut and thrown together in a windrow at one operation and then raked into heaps with a horse rake. The piles must be turned once or twice until the crop is dry, at which time the harvest is hauled to barns or sheds and stored until opportunity occurs for threshing. The bean thresher is a specially constructed machine designed on the same principle as any grain thresher but so adapted as to handle the larger seeds with little loss from crushed and split beans. Smaller plantings may be harvested and threshed by hand, but the present cost of labor would make such practice altogether out of the question with large areas.
Preparation for market. The material as coming from the thresher is mixed with chaff, dirt and other rubbish. The chaff is removed by running the seed thru a fanning mill. Finally the beans are run in thin layers over a sorting machine from which trained eyes and hands pick the broken and decayed specimens. Caution must be observed to have the seed thoroly dry before storing and to insure this the seed should be spread in thin layers in dry rooms. The stock is then bagged and ready for sale.
Cost of production and yields.- The yield may be from five to thirty-five bushels per acre and the cost of production is in direct correlation with the yield. In most cases the cost is greater than generally supposed. According to M. C. Burrittthe minimum acre cost is $25, with the average between $30 and $35. The bushel cost of production varied from $1.74 one year to $3.70 another. These figures were obtained with seed at average prices. Under the abnormal and vacillating market conditions of 1917 it is difficult to make even a rough estimate of the probable profits per acre. Rainfall is one of the factors which has a very direct influence on the success of the bean crop, an extreme drought bringing almost total failure. Thus it may be seen that the prospective grower should bear in mind that the bean crop is one demanding careful thought and by no means a chance crop to fill an idle field.
Diseases: Anthracnose. This disease is manifested in brown sunken spots which appear upon the foliage and pods. In severe attacks the leaves fall from the plant and further development of the half-grown crop ceases. The disease over-winters in the seed and care should be exercised to select good healthy looking seed stock; bordeaux mixture may be employed to hold the disease in check but as a rule spraying is too expensive an operation to be warranted.
Bacterial blight. This disease also causes a spot upon the pods and leaves of the bean. The diseased areas are of a brown color, somewhat smaller and generally less sunken than those of anthracnose. The appearance of the two diseases is very similar and causes confusion even to the trained eye. As with anthracnose, the only remedy is the selection of healthy seed.
Disease resistance. Several so-called anthracnose-resistant strains of field beans have recently come to public notice. Many of these have no such quality whatsoever while a few strains have considerable merit. Two supposedly anthracnose-resistant strains were grown upon the Station grounds in 1916. Both proved resistant to this disease, but one was badly attacked by bacterial blight. Before purchasing large quantities of highly advertised stock at high prices, the prospective grower should thoroly ascertain its reliability.
Insects: Common bean weevil. This enemy of the bean causes serious damage to the industry in the United States. The small, white, footless grubs feed within the beans both in the field and storage and when mature transform into brown-gray weevils which infest the dry beans. As many as 28 weevils have been found in a single bean. Unlike the pea weevil this species unfortunately breeds in the seed and it is imperative to treat infested seed at once. Fumigation with carbon bisulphide at the rate of one ounce to 100 pounds of beans is the most efficient control measure. A tight box or barrel will make a satisfactory fumigation apparatus. The carbon bisulphide which is a volatile liquid, may be either thrown onto the beans or placed in a dish above them. The box or barrel should be sealed as tightly as possible and left for 48 hours. Extreme care should be taken to keep fire of any description distant from the operation as the gaseous form of the chemical is explosive. Carbon bisulphide may be purchased from any drug store.
1In Rural New Yorker, 74:674. 1915.
VALUABLE VARIETIES OF BEANS.
1. Snowflake. Very similar to Navy Pea, differing only in being slightly earlier, less productive and having smaller seeds. Often one or more to the pod. Seed white.
2. Navy Pea. The ordinary pea bean. Seed white and small. Plant dwarf, 14 to 18 inches tall, with a decided running tendency, somewhat spreading, very vigorous, extremely hardy, very productive, ripens midseason.
3. Burlinghame or Medium. Habit of plant very similar to White Marrow, but a little later in season and more productive. Seed white and somewhat larger than the Navy Pea.
4. White Marrow. Plant dwarf with a running tendency, 14 to 18 inches high, very spreading, much branched, very vigorous, hardy, late, very productive. Seed of medium size.
5. Yellow Eye. Plant characters extremely like those of White Marrow. Seed, however, has a yellow blotch or eye on the ventral surface and a brown ring about the hilum. Seed of medium size.
6. Vineless Marrow. Plant quite similar to White Marrow, more erect, free from runners, later in maturity and more productive. Seed white and of medium size.
7. White Kidney. Plant strictly dwarf, 18 to 20 inches tall. Bushy, erect, very vigorous, very hardy, very late, productive. Seed large to very large.
8. Red Kidney. Seed brownish red. Plant characters same as White Kidney. Seed large to very large.