Friday, November 14, 2014

Beans In Kansas

A little discussion with a farmer in Kansas I thought you would find interesting:

Ed -- My comment on Resnik beans might need some explaining. The area 
I live is fairly rolling farmland with small creek bottoms every 
5-8mi. If you remember the pre "Freedom to Farm" days; this area was 
mostly winter wheat,a little alfalfa,some grain sorghum and almost no 
soybeans. After the "Freedom to Farm" bill passed the farming in our 
county changed rapidly. Wheat gave up a huge chunk of acres to 
soybeans and later on corn, and the trend seems to be here to stay. 

Up until that time the few acres of beans that were raised were only on 
prime river bottom ground. 

There are lots of fields being planted to 
beans now that 20 years ago we wouldn't have even considered beans an 
option.We raise most of our beans on very rolling ground with some 
pretty steep slopes and lots of terraces;The soil is a very tight clay 
over limestone rock. At places where erosion has been excessive the 
limestone is showing thru. It was into this environment that a whole 
generation of farmers started raising beans with almost no local 
expertise available..We were still all conventional till.

We raised a lot of 15-25bu/a beans in those years;round up ready was unheard 
of,weedy fields were common;clean fields were the envy of 
neighbors.... but we were still ahead of the game because after a year 
or two of beans we could go back to continuous wheat and yields were 
improved greatly. It was in this era that we started planting Resnik 
beans; most everyone was planting early group 3's......If beans were 
raised only as a break from wheat it made sense;plant a group 3 May 1 
and harvest by first week in Sept and right back to wheat! 

  Things have changed much since then: we have been 100% no till for 
almost 20 years and cover crop rye ahead of beans going into our 3rd 
year. Bean maturities have steadily gotten longer;4.7 - 4.9 is the 
norm and I'm guessing we may soon see 5's.Our yields have not only 
improved but also seem to be less erratic then they used to be. We 
used to plant group 3's in early May; now we plant late 4's in mid 
June. The improved consistency has earned beans a lot of respect they 
didn't used to have. Beans used to be what was planted as a rotation 
when  cheat grass got out of control in continuous wheat;now they are 
considered a regular crop. 

  Don't get shook up thinking we are going to swamp the markets 
anytime soon; our weather is a huge determinate in our production as 
well as the marginal ground that so much of our bean production is on. 
The  harvest we just finished was a typical year ; my best beans on a 
85a farm consisting of about 60% river bottom and 40% hilly upland 
made 47 bu/a which I considered very good.The 140 acre field around my 
house consisting of mostly steep slopes, some are quite eroded, made 
36bu/a ; which I also consider very good for soil type.
I have farmed 
this field for 20+ years and probably had beans on it 5-6 different 
times. This last year's yield would be one of the best, if not the 
best on this field. My lowest yields were in the 25 - 28 bu/a which 
would have been somewhat better had I planted 2-3 weeks later. This 
was the poorest ground I farm;first year I'm farming it. It's been 
abused something awful;I would expect that  5 years of high residue no 
till, cover crops,lime and added soil fertility will make a marked 

  Back to the Resnik beans; I have often wondered if we grew them 
today;considering all we have learned in the last 20 years, if we 
might be surprised what they would do if given a second chance.  Maybe 
I'm starting to get sentimental about the good old days.... 

Boy, isn't that the truth!


No comments:

Post a Comment