September, 1976

John Bollingberg windrows pinto beans while most farmers do not. He believed at that time that it decreases rocks and other debris out of the final yield.

Title: Pinto bean yields down

Caption on photo: John Bollingberg windrows three rows of pinto beans into one row. He is using a standard self-propelled swather that has been fitted with a Sund pick-up. Bollingberg and Klindworth believe this is the proper way to do it because a lot of dirt and stones are eliminated in the process, even though there might be some additional shelling of the pods.


The pinto bean harvest in the county is nearing completion and preliminary reports from producers indicate that yields are down from last year. Yields, this year, range between 600-800 pounds per acre on the average as opposed to average yields between 800-1000 pounds per acre last year.

The primary reason for the bean yield decrease, according to the growers, is the drought. Most of the county has had less than a half-inch of rain in the last month and a half. The pinto beans, as a concsequence, are smaller than last years and crack very easily during harvesting.

According to Bill Ongstad, Manfred, his beans yielded 950 pounds per acre gross but netted only 725 pounds per acre. Ongstad said that 24 percent of his beans were cracked. "That's partly the fault of the combine too," he said. He said that he had not used a special kit to convert the combine for beans. Beans have to be harvested with a very slow-speed cylinder in the combine to avoid cracking.

But the combine is not causing all the cracking problems. According to Jerry Hagemeister, the drough has caused dry kernals which split easily. 

Wells County Agent, LeVon Kirkeide, who also is a pinto bean grower, said that cracking is a problem this year because the beans are down to seven and eight percent moisture. He said that even if the beans are harvested at night or in the early morning when there is more moisture, the center of the bean is still dry and will split open easily.

And Ray Klindworth, who along with John Bollingberg, were the first to grow pinto beans in Wells County, said that cracking and field losses, as well as low prices, are big problems this year.

Klindworth was not sure what his yields would be but estimated they would be no lower than 600 pounds per acre.

Klindworth and Bollingberg harvest their beans a little differently than do the other producers. Pinto beans, in order to be harvested, must be cut below the ground with a special bean cutter.

But after the beans are cut, Klindworth and Bollingberg windrow the beans by picking up three rows of beans and putting it into one windrow. Then the combine comes along behind the windrower to pick up the beans.

The other producers pick up the beans from the row with a combine, eliminating the windrowing stage. But Klindworth and Bollingberg believe windrowing is worth the extra operation because it eliminates much of the problem of dirt and stones going into the combine.

The windrowing is done by fitting a Sund picup on a standard self-propelled swather. Klindworth's swather picks up three rows of beans at one time, but he said that the pickup should be a bit larger so it would pick up four rows. 

Most of the producers indicated that they are storing their crop becuase prices are only $11.50 per hundred-weight. Because their cost of production for the crop averages between $47 and $57 per acre, profits on yields of only 600 pounds per acre are not very high.

However pinto beans can be a very high profit crop. A few years ago, the prices for pinto beans were hovering above the $50 per hundred-weight mark. And with a yield of 1000 pounds per acre, it meant the grower was grossing $500 per acre. 

The other advantage of pinto beans in this area, according to the growers, is the crop can be used in lieu of summer fallow. According to Ray Klindworth, we has grown beans for several years, the decline in yield on bean ground as opposed to summer fallow is very slight if any.

All of the bean growers interviewed indicated they will grow pinto beans again next year, even though this year wasn't all they expected.