Love those beans!
January 11, 2005
Brian Love (right) and his father Allen check out the progress of the navy crop.
Dry beans are more than just another crop on the Love farm at Euclid, Minn.
They are the newest enterprise one that may help the Loves keep their 119-year-old farm going for the next generation.
Our great grandfather homesteaded here in 1886 and raised Clydesdale horses, explains Brian Love. He and his wife, Marla, now operate the farm with Brians parents, Allen and Lorraine, and his brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Connie. Brian and Scott are the fourth generation of the Loves to farm at Euclid. Scott started farming in 1978, and Brian joined the operation in 1993.
Their grandfather, John, grew wheat, oats and hay when he operated the farm.
Dad started raising sugarbeets, Brian says. Scott and I got into dry beans. Each generation had their new thing.
The Loves have been cautious when it comes to jumping into new crops and livestock, though. They arent usually the first in their neighborhood to try a new enterprise.
Dry beans have been grown in central Red River Valley since the late 1960s, but Brian and Scott didnt try them until 1994.
We were doing well with wheat, barley and sugarbeets, Brian says.
But a series of wet, humid summers beginning in the early 1990s caused scab to develop in wheat and barley.
We were having trouble with vomitoxin levels in the barley that was preventing it from making malting quality and the feed barley prices were too low, Brian recalls.
Neighbors were having good luck with navies and pintos. Plus, there were several established seed, chemical, equipment and processing companies in the area.
To have the services and the markets close by was important to us, Brian says. It was natural to try dry beans.
The brothers started with 55 acres of pintos and gradually expanded to the several hundred acres of dry beans that they grow today. The Loves grow mostly navies, but also produce pintos.
Dry beans have been more consistent for us than barley, even though we have struggled with wet weather and this year, a cool growing season, Brian says.
The Loves are taking several steps that they hope will help improve bean yields if the weather continues to be wet.
They tiled their first field this fall.
We have done almost all the surface drainage we can, Brian says. We thought tiling would be the next step to manage water.
Several growers in the Crookston-Euclid area have tiled sugar beet and dry bean fields. Brian says he has been impressed by how well all crops do on tile drained fields. Dry beans produce healthier plants and have higher yield potential when grown on well-drained soils.
The Loves also changed their fall tillage system to better manage excess water. Rather than using a disc or chisel plow, they work wheat fields with a disk ripper to help break up the hardpan, improve water infiltration in the fall and reduce the amount of crop residue that remains on the soil surface. Excessive residue from wheat crops had been keeping the soil cool longer in the spring.
Pictured above - Brian shows how he runs the disk ripper in wheat stubble to break up the hardpan.
One other equipment change is helping them manage tough conditions. This year, the Loves bought a Pickett specialty bean combine. They had been harvesting dry beans with a John Deere grain combine.
Whenever harvest ran late, we had trouble threshing beans with a conventional combine, Brian says.
They made the decision to buy the Pickett this summer when it seemed clear that dry beans were going to take several more weeks to mature than average.
We were able to harvest everything, Brian reports.
Had they been using a conventional combine, their crop quality would likely have been reduced and they would have had more delays.
I dont know if we would have gotten all the beans harvested, Brian says.
The new combine is creating some new opportunities, too. Brian and Scott are thinking of growing dark red kidney beans this year. The price potential is usually higher with kidneys than navies and pintos, but kidneys require more gentle handling during harvest than other classes of beans to minimize skinning and cracking the seed coat.
Now that we have a specialty bean combine, we should be able to harvest quality kidneys, Brian says. The bean business has proved to be interesting, Brian concludes. He was elected to the Minnesota Dry Bean Council about 1 ½ years ago.
There are lots of good people working in the industry. We hope to be part of it for a long time to come.
Brain Love, Euclid, MN, enjoys time with his daughter, Sophie while taking a break from bean harvest.