Bean farmers in Ontario need a good weather window and uniform maturity to harvest a high-quality crop
by, Jackie Clark
This fall, Ontario edible bean growers had a new challenge alongside the influence of Mother Nature for harvesting their crop at the correct maturity.
“Rain always makes (harvest) tricky because beans are low to the ground and some of them are still harvested with pulling equipment (that) knifes or rods them out of the ground,” said Mike Donnelly-Vanderloo, chair of the Ontario Bean Growers.
This fall “went from a little dry and then into some wet spells,” he said to Farms.com. As a result, producers had to watch closely for their window of opportunity to harvest.
In addition to the weather delays, Ontario growers couldn’t use glyphosate in production.
Previously, farmers could use the herbicide as a pre-harvest aid to control weeds and terminate the beans themselves, Donnelly-Vanderloo said.
This year, producers could use alternatives like desiccants, but these products tend to be less effective at reaching certain parts of the bean plants, he said.
“If you have green stems or regrowth, that’s where the glyphosate” used to help, he added.
Green stems or pods can cause concerns at harvest. “Green juice gets mixed in with dust or dirt and that can affect bean quality,” Donnelly-Vanderloo said. “Quality is everything for edible beans. It’s not just about price or yield; if you don’t have the quality, you’re in trouble.
“Beans go right to the table,” he added. “They’re not usually ground up or processed, so appearance is everything because they’re often consumed whole.”
Without the use of glyphosate, bean farmers may have needed to wait longer for fields to reach uniform maturity.
“When you lose something, you have to compensate in other ways. Certainly, being on top of weed control and having a uniform stand would go a long way in counterbalancing the loss of glyphosate,” Donnelly-Vanderloo said.
Overall, producers in his area of southwestern Ontario were fortunate and they’ve harvested at least three-quarters of their crosp, he estimated. “We got some nice windows and (harvest) turned out pretty good,” he said.
But the season is getting challenging for those farmers who are still looking for a good window to harvest, he added.
“Be patient,” Donnelly-Vanderloo said. “And be optimistic. Most times, things work out, but you’ve got to be ready.”
Farmers seeded dry white beans and coloured beans on a total of 124,270 acres across the province this year, according to OMAFRA.E+\FotografiaBasica photo