Evidence-Based Crop Management for Organic Dry Bean Farming

Dry beans have the potential to be a lucrative crop for organic farmers in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. High-value legume crops like dry beans add diversity to crop rotations, improve soil fertility, and can increase a farm’s profitability. Despite strong regional market opportunities, organic dry bean production has been hampered by knowledge gaps that limit yields and crop quality. The lack of reliable, evidence-based information also discourages farmers who have never cultivated organic dry beans from entering the market.

To support the long-term sustainability and profitability of the organic dry bean industry in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, an interdisciplinary team of Cornell researchers led by Sarah Jane Pethybridge, School of Integrative Plant Science, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, is addressing the challenges of organic dry bean production. This collaborative project will identify the types and varieties of dry beans best suited to organic production in the region; establish best practices for disease and weed management; and develop guidance on no-till, cover crop–based management systems to increase yields, enhance profitability, improve soil health, and increase resilience to extreme weather and climate change. The team at Cornell is joined by collaborators at the University of Vermont, the University of Maine, and the University of Wisconsin.

Increased cultivation of dry beans could diversify crop rotations, decrease reliance on fertilizers and other nutrient inputs, and regenerate soil health—particularly when dry beans are grown as part of a system with cover crops and reduced tillage. This research will facilitate adoption of improved management strategies and will provide farmers with decision-making tools through a broad range of outreach and extension activities.

NIFA Award Number: 2022-51300-37881

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$3 Million spanning 4 years

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