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Edible Bean School: Fine-tuning seeding rates and dates

By: Bernard Tobin

February 22, 2021

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What role do seeding rates and seeding dates play in producing top-quality, high-yielding edible bean crops?

On this first episode of RealAgriculture’s new Edible Bean School we connect with two industry experts to gather insight on how to fine-tune rates and dates to optimize bean production.

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For an Eastern Canada perspective, we kick things off with management tips from Paul Corwell, seed manager for Hensall Co-op, which will sponsor the first season of the new series.

When it comes to setting rates, Cornwell discusses why it’s important to think in terms of seeds per foot of row and how rates vary for large-seeded crops such as cranberry beans and kidney beans versus smaller-seeded crops like white beans or azuki beans. He also highlights how row width is critical in establishing seeding rates.

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For seeding dates, Cornwell breaks down the key role played by market class. He also tackles the question of whether it pays to plant edible beans earlier. In this case, growers have to weigh the possibility of a late frost and whether potential returns justify testing Mother Nature.

Cornwell also explores how growers can target optimum planting dates and conditions to allow them to see their beans twice in one week. “You want to see them at planting and then emerging within seven days,” says Cornwell.

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We then head to Manitoba to get a Western Canada perspective on rates and dates with Dennis Lange, Manitoba Agriculture’s pulse specialist. (Story continues after the video.)

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Lange says one of the major differences between the east and west approach to edible beans is the tendency for more solid-seeded beans in the west. Typically, row planting rates can vary from 75,000 to 110,000 seeds per acre, but when it comes to solid seeding, rates tend to push into the 130,000 to 140,000 seeds planted range.

Lange also discuses the impact spring weather conditions — extremely wet or dry — can have have on seeding rates.

When it comes to western seeding dates, Lange notes that long-term yield data indicates growers should target the third week of May. Any earlier and beans don’t tend to produce optimum yield. And as seeding starts to get closer to June, yield potential also tends to drop off.

The episode wraps up with some thoughts from Lange on planting strategy as your seeder is ready to roll and there’s a big rain approaching. Lange offers insights on whether it’s best to park the seeder or drive on.