University research on diseases and weed control is shared with growers during tours of fieldbean plots. Current research by plant pathologists seeks to control white mold, which causes significant losses each year in commercial plantings.
Minnesota supports a healthy industry that grows and packages beans used for soups, chilis, tacos, and burritos. Farmers harvest about 250 million pounds of beans each year and most of it is exported. Plant scientists with the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station have studied this specialty crop since the 1950s. Researchers tested hundreds of varieties, identified the best performers, worked on field practices, improved processing, and helped create products and a new industry in the 1970s.
Some of the market classes of beans grown here - and their main uses - include:
Minnesota now leads the nation in production of dark red kidney beans, with four times the harvest of the next competitor, Michigan. About 165,000 acres of fieldbeans are grown, in the Red River Valley and on irrigated sandy soil between Elk River, Park Rapids, and Wadena. The crop adds diversity to consumers' diets, to farm income, and to Minnesota agriculture.
Red-banded cranberry beans, like other fieldbeans, are harvested in September by combines that separate beans from pods. The black turtle bean's blossom is tiny, but Minnesota beans show up big in markets from the Far East to Great Britain.
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