Dry sugar bean seed is regarded as one of the most important field crops in South Africa on account of its high protein content and dietary benefits.
South Africa produces only 75 % of the dry sugar bean seed consumed in the country therefore a continuous effort is being made to obtain higher production, increase profitability and to meet the ever-increasing demand for food in South Africa and Africa.
Dry sugar bean seeds are extremely labour intensive field crops as the plants lodge into the soil and the pods grow extremely close to the ground.
This labour intensity increases the price significantly which makes the production of Dry sugar bean seeds an attractive option for commercial farmers and grower in and around South Africa.
In 2015, McDonald Seeds and Pro-Seed changed the way farmers looked at Dry Sugar Bean Seed production forever…
Based on the breeding programme, at Ukulinga Research Farm in Pietermaritzburg, this breeding programme has seen the development of upright determinate dry sugar bean plants to facilitate mechanical harvesting. This game changing productions means that the plant has a strong upright stem which prevents it from lodging therefore it grows upwards fairly high of the ground which makes it easy to mechanically harvest the crops.
Harvesters can quickly and easily pick up the plants… Spillage is minimal due to the shattering resistance of the Ukulinga bean. According to farmers and grower in South Africa, mechanical harvesting is the way forward especially for the increase in production in the country and going back to windrow harvesting is definitely not an option. The dry sugar bean seeds are of outstanding qualities :
Dry beans have always had the reputation of being one of the more labour intensive field crops. However, dry bean prices are significantly higher than its cousin the soybean and dry bean production can be a very attractive option. With the present high cost of labour, farmers are seriously considering mechanical harvesting. Dry beans generally are difficult to harvest by combine due to the nature of plant architecture. The plants tend to lodge and the pods are too close to the ground.
With the release two years ago of a new upright dry bean cultivar, farmers presently have an exciting opportunity to use their combine harvester for dry beans. This new sugar bean cultivar, named Ukulinga, was developed by Pro-Seed in conjunction with McDonald Seeds in Pietermaritzburg.
The cultivar has a bush growth habit, but with a long maturity period, which makes it suitable for the Highveld dry bean production areas. The plant has a strong upright stem which prevents it from lodging. The lowest pods are approximately 5 cm above the soil surface. Even in a wet season the quality of the beans are good as there is no contact of the pods with the wet soil. During the past season several farmers in KwaZulu- Natal and the Free State have experimented with mechanical harvesting of the Ukulinga dry bean and with very good results.
The experiments have shown that the combine harvesters can pick up the plants without a problem and the number of plants left behind was negligible. Spillage was minimal due to the shattering resistance of the Ukulinga bean. In an experiment in the Bergville area a seven Ha block was harvested in less than two hours. According to the growers mechanical harvesting is the way forward for dry bean production in South Africa. In the coming season they intend to conduct further experiments with fertilization and spacing trials in order to optimize yields of Ukulinga. However, going back to windrow harvesting is not an option for them.