Beans & Blossoms
January 15, 2003
James Koester, Glyndon, Minn., turns heads with his picture-perfect fields of dry beans, wheat, soybeans and sugar beets.
And he even frames one of those fields every year with a border of flowers.
This year it was dry beans turn in the rotation to be flanked on two sides by 12 rows of red, gold, and purple zinnas.
Koester plants the 6 pounds of seeds with his sugar beet planter, uses Treflan to help control the weeds and spends many evenings hoeing the 1/2 mile length of flowers to keep them clean.
Planting flowers is fun, says Koester, who has been planting the flower border for the past 25 years.
"I used to do just one side of the field along (Clay County Highway) 11, but someone who traveled (Clay County Highway)18 all the time said he wished he could see it, so I had to plant a border on along the other side."
Koester enjoys peoples reactions when they see the long stretch of colorful blooms.
"The lady who delivers the mail stopped me one day to say, "thanks." She said she figured that I planted them just for her, since she probably sees them more often than anyone else. I told her she was right."
Some people drive in Koesters farmyard and ask if they can pick some flowers for a bouquet. Jim and his wife, Linda, always say, "yes."
Of course, some people dont ask first. They pull their car over to the shoulder of the road and dash in and out of the field.
"They run away like the flowers are gold," Koester says.
Beans as pretty
Farmers admire Koesters field crops, too. He treats them with as much -- if not more -- care than the flowers.
This year, Koesters dry beans looked especially impressive. He grows navies and blacks.
What sets them apart is how clean they were throughout the year. They remained virtually weed free.
Koester says part of his recipe for a good looking, high yielding crop is doing field work on time.
Another important step is getting a good, even stand established. Koester pays close attention to maintaining surface drainage ditches, doing proper preplant tillage and planting seed at a uniform depth.
He applies Treflan and a post emergent herbicide that will best control target weeds. If necessary, he hires hand labor to help him keep dry beans clean throughout the season.
"I get this from my Dad," Koester says. "He didnt tolerate any weeds. I wasnt much more than 8 or 9 when I was out walking fields with my dad and sisters. It wasnt enough that we pulled the weeds, but we had to carry them to the ditch or headland and pile them up. Dad would burn them."
Today, the sight of a picture-perfect dry bean field bordered by bright red flowers would certainly please him.