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Fertilizing dried edible beans in Minnesota

A variety of dried beans.

Edible bean production contributes substantially to farming enterprises in Minnesota. Edible beans are beans grown for human consumption. At this time, there is no data suggesting that one type of edible bean should be fertilized differently than another.

Nitrogen guidelines

Nitrogen (N) fertilizer guidelines can be based either on the results of the soil nitrate test or the consideration of yield goal, previous crop, and soil organic matter content.

The soil nitrate test is appropriate for the fine-textured soils of western and northwestern Minnesota. It should not be used for soils that have a sand, loamy sand, or sandy loam texture.

Nitrogen management practices should be adjusted according to soil texture. Split applications are suggested for sandy soils (sands, loamy sands, sandy loams).

  • Apply approximately one-half of the suggested nitrogen about two weeks after planting.
  • Apply the remainder two weeks later.

Nitrogen fertilizer formula for dry edible bean plantings

  • Suggested N in lb/acre = [(.05) x YG] - STN(0-24 in.) - NPC

Nitrogen formula variables

  • YG = yield goal, bushels per acre
  • STN(0-24 in.) = nitrate-nitrogen (NO3--N) measured to a depth of 2 feet, in pounds per acre
  • NPC = amount of N supplied by the previous crop, in pounds per acre

Split applications are not needed if soils are not sandy. The nitrogen needed for these fields can be applied in the fall for western Minnesota, before planting, or as a side-dress treatment. Considering the late date of planting common with edible bean production, a spring pre-plant application followed by incorporation would be preferred.

Do not apply any N in contact with the seed at planting.

There is no evidence to suggest that there is a superior source of nitrogen for edible bean production. If applied so as to prevent loss, all nitrogen fertilizers should have an equal effect on yield.

Suggested nitrogen credits for various crops that might precede dry edible beans in a crop rotation. Use these credits when the soil nitrate test is used.

Previous Crop First year N credit (lb N/acre)
Soybean 20
Edible beans, field peas 10
Harvested sweet clover 10
Harvested red clover 35
Harvested alfalfa* or non-harvested sweet clover
4-5 plants/ft2 75
2-3 plants/ft2 50
1-2 plants/ft2 25
1 or fewer plants/ft2 0
Sugar beet
Yellow leaves at harvest 0
Light-green leaves at harvest 15-30
Dark-green leaves at harvest 60-80

*If 3rd or 4th cutting was not harvested, add 20 lb. N/acre to the N credits listed.

Nitrogen guidelines for dry edible beans when the soil nitrate test is not used*

Crop grown last year Organic matter level** Below 1450 lb/acre 1451-1900 lb/acre 1901-2400 lb/acre 2400-2900 lb/acre 2900+ lb/acre
Alfalfa (4+ plants/ft2) Low 0 lb N/acre 0 lb N/acre 0 lb N/acre 0 lb N/acre 0 lb N/acre
Alfalfa (4+ plants/ft2) Medium/High 0 0 0 0 0
Alfalfa {2-3 plants/ft2) Low 0 0 20 40 60
Alfalfa (2-3 plants/ft2) Medium/High 0 0 0 10 30
Soybeans or alfalfa (1 or less plants/ft2) Low 0 20 40 60 80
Soybeans or alfalfa (1 or less plants/ft2) Medium/High 0 0 0 30 50
Edible beans, field peas, harvested sweet clover Low 20 40 60 80 100
Edible beans, field peas, harvested sweet clover Medium/High 0 0 30 50 70
Group 1 Crops (see below) Low 0 0 0 25 45
Group 1 Crops Medium/High 0 0 0 0 25
Group 2 Crops Low 40 60 80 100 120
Group 2 Crops Medium/High 10 30 50 70 90

*Based on expected yield of the crop in pounds per acre. **Low = less than 3.0%; Medium/High = 3.0% or more
Crops in Group 1: Alsike clover, birdsfoot trefoil, grass/legume hay, grass legume pasture, fallow, red clover.
Crops in Group 2: Alfalfa (0-1 plants/ft.2), barley, buckwheat, canola, corn, flax, grass hay, grass pasture, oat, potato, rye, sorghum-sudan, sugarbeet, sunflower, sweet corn, triticale, vegetables, wheat.

Phosphate and potash guidelines

Soil tests are intended to be an index of crop response and not a direct measure of the amount of nutrient in the soil. The phosphorus (P) status of Minnesota soils is determined by using either the Bray or the Olsen analytical procedure.

  • The Bray soil test uses a strong acid to extract P from the soil. In situations where carbonates are present in the soil, the acid in the Bray solution can be neutralized reducing the amount of P extracted and the effectiveness of the test.
  • The Olsen test provides more accurate results if the soil pH is 7.4 or higher as it is not affected by carbonates in the soil.
  • Both tests can be accurately used in situations where high soil pH is not an issue but values obtained from the Olsen tests will be lower for the same soil test classification range since the Bray and Olsen test extract P out of different pools of available P in the soil.

The guidelines listed in these tables are suggested for either banded or broadcast applications.

Do not apply any fertilizer in contact with the seed.

Phosphate fertilizer guidelines*

Expected Yield Bray-P1
Expected Yield Olsen
0-5 ppm
0-3 ppm
6-10 ppm
4-7 ppm
11-15 ppm
8-11 ppm
16-20 ppm
12-15 ppm
21+ ppm
16+ ppm
Below 1401 lb/acre 30 lb/acre 20 lb/acre 15 lb/acre 0 lb/acre 0 lb/acre
1401-1900 35 25 15 0 0
1901-2400 45 30 20 10 0
2401-2900 55 40 25 10 0
2900+ 60 45 25 10 0

*Pounds of P2O5 suggested to apply per acre for dry edible bean production based on either the Bray-P1 or Olsen soil methods test reported in parts per million (ppm). Use one of the following equations if a P205 recommendation for a specific yield goal is desired.

  • P205 Rec = [.0231-.0011 (Bray P, ppm)] (Yield Goal)
  • P205 Rec = [.0231-.0014 (Olsen P, ppm)] (Yield Goal)

Potash fertilizer guidelines*

Expected Yield K: 0-40 ppm K: 40-80 ppm K: 80-120 ppm K:120-160 ppm K: 160+ ppm
Below 1401 lb/acre 35 lb/acre 15 lb/acre 0 lb/acre 0 lb/acre 0 lb/acre
1401-1900 45 15 0 0 0
1901-2400 55 20 0 0 0
2401-2900 65 25 0 0 0
2900+ 75 30 0 0 0

*Pounds of K2O suggested to apply per acre for dry edible bean production based on the ammonium acetate potassium (K) test reported in parts per million (ppm). Use the following equation if a K2O recommendation for a specific soil test value and a specific yield goal is desired.

  • K2ORec = [.0346-.00042 (K Soil Test, ppm)] (Yield Goal)

Other nutrient needs

Past research with edible beans has indicated that zinc is the only micronutrient that may be needed in a fertilizer program.

Zinc application guidelines (lb/acre) for edible bean production

Zinc soil test* Starter lb/acre Broadcast lb/acre
0.00-0.25 ppm 2 10
0.26-0.50 2 10
0.51-0.75 1 5
0.76-1.00 0 0

*Zinc extracted by the DTPA procedure.

There is no research suggesting that other nutrients are needed in a fertilizer program for edible bean production.


Do not apply any fertilizer in contact with the seed at planting.

Authors: Daniel E. Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist, and Keith Piotrowski, director of the soil testing laboratory

Reviewed in 2023

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