Sunday, April 26, 2015

Planting Pintos

Weather: Mornings were cool, afternoons were warm, then turned windy and cloudy; wind and rain today while I was waiting for the internet provider to come back up.

What’s blooming in the area: Some white-flowered tree blossoms survived last week’s cold; lilacs, bearded iris, moss phlox.

Beyond the walls and fences: Alfilerillo, western stickseed, purple and tansy mustards, hoary cress, common and local dandelions; cottonwoods and Virginia creeper leafing, trees of heaven releafing after freeze.

In my yard: Tulips, grape hyacinth, vinca.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds, ants.

Weekly update: It’s time to think about planting seeds, but they don’t all go in at once. You have to learn some, like larkspur, like cold soil and others, like pinto beans, rot away if the ground isn’t warm enough to germinate them.

Garden guides say you have to innoculate them and their roots produce their own nitrogen. That’s because Phaseolus vulgaris is a legume and that’s true of most legumes.

Oscar and Ethel Allen looked closely at their nodules and found Rhizobium phaseoli are common in the soil and thus beans are "highly receptive to appropriate inocula." However, most of the bacteria that grow on the roots are "functionally deficient in nitrogen fixation."

Farmers don’t like such differences. Their success often depends on their ability to transfer the tools and methods learned with one crop to another.

During World War I, farmers in the Estancia Valley were growing pinto beans commercially. At that time, local farmers plowed the land into furrows that they next flood irrigated. When the soil dried enough, they took a small plow over the ground. A man or boy followed dropping beans every 10" in the furrows. They replowed twice, then planted beans again. Finally they pulled a drag to level the ground and cover any still exposed beans.

That was a lot of work. The new comers prepared the fields and planted the seeds with drills, then irrigated. The water often formed a hard crust that had to be broken. Then weeds took advantage, and field had to be constantly hoed. Then it needed more irrigation.

Fabian Garcia, director of the State Agricultural Experiment Station, noted, in many cases, the old way was better. In both cases, beans were hand picked, which left dead plants in the field to hold the soil during winter and spring winds.

New Mexico and Colorado were still major producers of pinto beans after World War II. Today, North Dakota and Nebraska are the largest commercial growers. As the bean moved out of the arid southwest, other farmers added it to their rotations using their existing methods.

Today, Sara Schumacher and Michael Boland say:

"Beans are a high-cost, irrigated crop compared to sunflowers and wheat. Beans require two to three fungicide treatments to combat disease, are prone to iron deficiency, leave little crop residue to inhibit postharvest erosion and require irrigation. Multiple irrigation applications may also lead to the fungus problem."

Their comments appear on the website of Iowa State University’s Agricultural Marketing Research Center. They aren’t interested in how to grow dry land beans, but how to sell dry beans. They group pinto beans with black beans grown in Michigan, kidney beans from Minnesota, and Great Northern navy beans produced in Nebraska. After all, they’re all types of Phaseolus vulgaris.

As their observations on growing indicate, they may be interchangeable in elevators and soup mixes, but they are not interchangeable in the ground. San Miguel County farmers had none of those problems, when they handled irrigation properly.

Allen, O. N. and Ethel K. The Leguminosae, 1981.

Garcia, Fabian. "Bean Culture," " The New Mexico Farm Courier, September 1916.

Gonzalez, M. R. "Queries on the New Mexico Pinto Bean," The New Mexico Farm Courier, June 1916.

Mimms, Otho Leroy and William John Zaumeyer. Growing Dry Beans in the Western States, 1947.

Schumacher, Sara and Michael Boland. "Dry Edible Bean Profile," October 2005, updated September 2011 by Diane Huntrods, Iowa State University Agricultural Marketing Research Center website.

1. Pinto Beans.

2. Phaseolus vulgaris, including Great Northern and smaller navy beans, black beans, various colors of kidney beans, and pinto beans.

3. House brand 16 bean soup mix contains Great Northern beans, navy beans, small white beans, pinto beans, black beans, light red kidney beans, small red beans, pink beans, cranberry beans, large lima beans, baby lima beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas, and green whole peas.

Instructions: soak for at least 8 hours, then cook for 90 to 120 minutes. Note: differences in altitude, hardness of water and product moisture may change the suggested cook time. They overlook the fact black beans should soak for 3 hours and cook for 35-45 minutes, navy beans soak for 2 hours and cook for 35-45 minutes, red kidney beans soak for 4-5 hours and cook for 60-75 minutes, pinto beans soak for 3-4 hours and cook for 45-60 minutes. Soaked split peas cook in 40 minutes and unsoaked lentils in 45 minutes.

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