Wade Bruns, Oriska, N.D.
April 15, 2004
Wade and his wife, Kimberly, and childred Michael and Nicholas raise pinto beans on their farm near Oriska, North Dakota.
Wade Bruns has an unconventional approach to raising pinto beans.
The Oriska, N.D., farmer no-tills pintos with an air seeder into wheat stubble in 10-inch wide rows. Then at harvest, rather than knifing the bean plants, he sprays them with a desiccant and combines them using a flex head equipped with brush lifters and an air reel.
The no-till/solid-seeded method, which is more common in Canada than Northarvest, requires less equipment and labor than conventional practices.
And Bruns says hes getting good yields. Over the past five years, his yields have ranged from 1,500 to 2,200 pounds per acre.
Bruns who was named the North Dakota Jaycees Outstanding Young Farmer in 2002 -- grows approximately 300 acres of pintos in rotation with wheat, corn, soybeans, field peas and canola. He follows wheat with pintos on better-drained soils where he has had good weed control during the wheat season.
Until recently, Bruns didnt own a row crop planter. He planted dry beans and corn with the same air seeder he used to seed small grains, soybeans, peas and canola. (Planting corn with an air seeder is even more rare than planting dry beans with an air seeder and Bruns says it has been working for him.) Recently, Bruns purchased an 8-row corn planter from his new hired man.
However, he has only used it to plant corn. He wanted to compare yields from corn planted with a row crop versus corn planted with an air seeder.
Bruns currently plants the pinto variety, Maverick. One of the most popular pintos in North Dakota and Minnesota, Maverick also happens to lend itself well to solid-seeding due to its upright, bushy plant architecture.
Good weed control is critical to the success of Bruns production method.
While applying anhydrous ammonia in the fall for next years bean crop, Bruns also applies Treflan. Residue disturbance is minimal with the 2-inch knifes.
In the spring, he usually does not need to apply a burndown chemical prior to planting. The air seeder he uses is equipped with 3-inch wide shovels on 10-inch spacing. As he plants beans, the air seeder kills a large number of the weeds that have emerged especially those in the row.
Bruns seeds pintos in 10-inch rows at a rate of 95,000 seeds per acre. He aims for a stand of 85,000-90,000 plants per acre. Plants end up approximately five to eight inches apart in the row.
After planting, he pulls a rock roller over the field. The 40-foot wide, 17,000-pound cylinder pushes rocks dug up by the air seeder back into the soil.
Because his fields contain rocks near the soil surface, rolling them after planting eliminates the risk of picking them up with the flex head at harvest and damaging the combine.
During the growing season, Bruns sprays beans twice with post emergence herbicides. A Raptor/Basagran tank mix goes on first. For the second application, he uses Result, which is a Reflex/Basagran prepackaged mix.
What about white mold?
I have been amazed, Bruns says.
White mold hasnt been a serious problem in his solid seeded fields the past five years. Though the disease has been present, he hasnt applied a fungicide.
The plants seem to dry out adequately, Bruns says, perhaps because there is more room between individual plants.
An air reel helps move beans into the feeder auger.
Lifter brushers mounted on the combine sickle guard lift pods off the ground so they can be combined with a flex head.
Seven to 10 days prior to harvest in early September, Bruns sprays the pintos with Gramoxone, a labeled desiccant, to kill the vines and dry them down. Desiccation takes the place of knifing and windrowing.
Bruns picks up the beans with a flex head outfitted with brush lifters and an air reel. Both are Canadian products. The flexible plastic brushes mount on the sickle guards. They lift the pinto pods up and over the sickle as the header advances. The air reel directs a strong air stream behind the plants, pushing them off the grain table and into the feeder auger.
Harvesting pintos with a flex head is slow, Bruns says.
He operates the combine at just 2½ mph. It takes him about a week to combine 300 acres.
Harvest losses range from 100-150 pounds per acre. Losses were 20% higher before Bruns outfitted the flex head with the brush lifters.
They arent a maintenance headache, he says of the lifters. They are flexible so they bend, but dont break when they hit something.
The dessicant/flex head method of harvest pintos fits Bruns operation well. With just 300 acres of pintos, he says he cant justify having a knifer and windrower, or a combination machine. Knifing and windrowing would require a second operator and tractor at harvest.
One person can combine beans and the other can keep up with the fall work, says Bruns, who has one full-time employee.
The system also produces high quality pintos even if it rains during harvest. The standing plants dry out quickly, perhaps because there is plenty of room between plants for the air to circulate. Also, the plants remained anchored in the soil until they are harvested so they dont roll and shatter.
I certainly wouldnt tell anyone that this is the way to grow pintos, Bruns concludes, but it is working pretty well for me.