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Ready for Harvest?
October 25, 2002

As you gear up for harvest, heres a new item to add to your checklist-- a cell phone.

Make sure the dry bean dealers that you are going to deliver beans to have your cell phone number. The plant managers can call as soon as the they see something in your sample - skins checks, dirt, color smears or foreign material  that needs your attention in the field.

"Communication may be the most important tool we have during harvest," says Doug Sprehe, agronomist with Farmers Finest Bean Co., East Grand Forks, Minn.

Here are some other harvest checklist items from Eben Spencer, agronomist, ASI; and John Smith, University of Nebraska agricultural engineer.

  • Dont start combining dry beans too soon or wait too long. Dry beans are generally ready when they are 18% moisture. A tip off to the proper moisture is when the seed rattle in the pods.
  • Be patient. Stop when you cant put quality beans in the grain tank. Wait for conditions to improve.
  • Avoid mixing poor quality and good quality beans. Leave later maturing areas to combine separately. Watch out frost damage.
  • Consider dessicating varieties that stay green through harvest. Harvest will not only go more smoothly, but youll reduce the risk of smearing the bean coat with juice from green plant tissue.
  • Make sure nightshade has been removed from the field. Juice from the weeds berries will stain bean coats.
  • Thoroughly clean the combine and trucks when switching from other crops to dry beans, and from different classes of dry beans  especially from black turtle beans to navy beans. For best results, clean equipment with an air compressor.
  • Check auger flighting for dents and sharp edges. Both increase seed coat checks.
  • Monitor samples closely for seed coat checks, dirt , smears and foreign material. Adjust the combine settings if possible, or shut down until conditions improve.
  • Use sharp knifes or sickles and a good divider system so that you dont pull plants up by the roots. Dirt will cling to the roots and get into grain.
  • Create even, uniform windrows. It will help combining go smoother and will result in a higher quality product in the grain tank.
  • Assess the job you did controlling weeds and cultivating. You should have created a small ridge around the bean plants during cultivation so that you can run the knives through the ridge when cutting beans. Proper hilling will make it easier to knife the beans cleanly.


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
Ph: 218-334-6351 | Fax: 218-334-6360 | Email: