Harvest timing key to avoid green beans this year

Written by Kim Brown-Livingston on Sep 11 2018

Timely advice for avoiding green soybeans

They go by many names: balloons, jelly beans, lima beans, or green beans. But no matter what you call them, you don’t want to end up with this kind of soybean in your bin. Both Cargill’s grain quality lab and the Canadian Grain Commission are seeing a higher incidence of green beans this year coming off fields in southern Manitoba. They may appear green, waxy and translucent on the outside, and when you cut into them, they are green right through.

It’s a problem for buyers, because these are not easy to process. It’s a problem for you, because you are downgraded and receive less for your production – or a load may be rejected. Whereas grain buyers are used to seeing a few balloons or jelly beans in a typical year, 2018 is shaping up differently. In more cases than usual, soybean plants have been unable to clear chlorophyll from the beans themselves, most likely due to the extremely hot, dry conditions of the summer. This goes well beyond the perfectly acceptable “halo” of green that we sometimes see in mature beans.


This photo from the Canadian Grain Commission shows mature beans (note the halo) on the left and immature beans on the right.


So how do you avoid being one of the farmers with green beans on your hands?

The answer is usually simple: TIME in the field will dry immature beans down. But what about mature beans that have remained green due to extreme dry conditions?

WAIT. Cut open some beans to see if they’re green inside. If there is earth tag or unthreshed pods in your sample, the straw may not be mature enough to harvest. Wait 4-5 days and try again. If you’re still seeing jelly beans, wait longer. Have patience, because it could take up to 2-3 weeks.

If beans are mature you can leave them in the field a bit longer to try to clear some green. Be careful not to let them get too dry though because you’re looking to deliver at about 14% moisture. Finally, I expect that as later-maturing soybean varieties begin to be ready for harvest and harvest operations move north and west, we’ll see fewer green beans. Talk to your Cargill agronomist for help with identifying harvest readiness.

Tags: harvest, agronomy, soybeans

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