Pulse School: Dry bean production under irrigation

Pinto beans

Dry beans are not too common on the western plains but they do have a nice fit in certain areas. One of those areas is the Riverhurst irrigation district along Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan.

That’s where RealAgriculture field editor, Dale Leftwich, caught up with Riverhurst area farmer, Jeff Ewen for this episode of Pulse School. Ewen explains how dry beans fit into his farm’s rotation and, more generally, how they fit into a rotation under irrigation. (story continues below)

“We acquired some irrigation land here along Lake Diefenbaker approximately ten years ago,” Ewen says. “We found that dry beans fit as probably the best pulse under irrigation, there were a few in the area that were having some success with it so it’s something we wanted to give a try.”

Ewen adds dry beans benefit from late season moisture more than most other pulses. Irrigation can supply late season moisture which make them more successful.

“A lot of the other crops, like the peas and the lentils are grown vastly on the dryland acres surrounding us and we just don’t see the major benefit under irrigation that we see with the dry bean,” he says.

Farmers use unique equipment to grow dry beans. Pods grow very close to the ground so the plant is actually cut off below the ground and then windrowed to be picked up by a specialized combine later.

There is some work being done to see if dry beans can be grown with conventional equipment, but it’s at a very early stage.

For more information on dry bean production, head to the SaskPulse website.




Dale Leftwich

Dale Leftwich farmed for over twenty years and throughout that time worked as an agronomist, seed manager and businessman. He has been on the Boards of SaskCanola, Canadian Canola Growers and Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan. He also help develop the documentary License to Farm.


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