Beans in the field - Aug 2021

Beautiful Beans in the Field

We often see dry beans in the stores, but what do beans in the field look like? Check out this quick photo compilation to find out! Also, make sure to read the fascinating fact from a renowned bean breeder at the end!

Beans in the field - Aug 2021

I took all these photos around mid-August 2021 at Colorado State University’s Agricultural Research, Development, and Education Center (ARDEC), when the plants were about 1 month from harvest.

You may be wondering when they were planted, right? These plants had been in the ground for over 60 days. Bean plants often grow for over 90 days before harvest, although times vary with type and cultivar of bean. If you want to see what a pinto planting looks like, check out this video.

CSU ARDEC experimental bean plots-1
ARDEC experimental bean plots

Okay, here come some lovely photos with descriptions!

CSU ARDEC experimental bean plots-2
Pinto bean plants. One thing the breeders look for is stem breakage – too much breakage means a variety under development should be discontinued.

Pinto beans make up about 75% of dry bean production here in Colorado, and they are the number one dry bean throughout the United States. Did you know that not all pintos are the same, though? There are many different varieties, and bean breeders are constantly looking to improve the plants. It is a fascinating process!

Pinto beans in their pods-1
Pinto bean plants, with some pests visible in the upper right (look for the little yellow blobs on the leaves)
Pinto beans in their pods-2
Also pinto plants, but check out that awesome pod color!

About 1 month before harvest, this is what the seed looked like. You can see the characteristic pinto bean coloration starting to kick in.

Pinto seeds about 1 month from harvest
Pinto bean seeds
Mexican bean beetles
A close-up of Mexican bean beetles. They mainly eat the leaves of the plants, not the pods. However, that can obviously still harm bean production by hurting the plants’ health.

Now, here is another type of pulse, cowpeas!

What are pulses? Read this! Basically pulses are a type of legume that includes dry beans.

I had never seen cowpeas in the field and was super excited. They hold promise as a very drought-resistant pulse. See how different they look from pintos?!


And here are a couple of the other types of beans they were growing out at ARDEC: cranberry beans and light red kidney beans.

Cranberry bean
Cranberry beans
Light red kidney bean
Light red kidney beans

Beans are beautiful, right?!

I Asked a Bean Breeder How Long It Takes…

Bean breeding is quite the process! I asked a renowned bean breeder, Dr. Mark Brick, how long it takes from when the breeding process begins to when farmers are really growing the beans for the public.

Any guesses??

Drumroll… (this is me trying to give you time and some space on the page to think)

He said that if the process goes smoothly…12 years!! That is commitment!

Wondering anything else about beans? Let me know! I will be in the fields a couple times over the next few weeks.

Watch this Video on Highlights from Bean Planting Season


  1. I love knowing this stuff! Every night at my dinner table I make a toast to the growers who bring us our sustenance. Now I”ll also include the people like you and Dr. Brick. Your work is so valuable, and will not go unnoticed at our house. Thanks for feeding the people.

    • This is so kind of you to say! I cannot take credit for the amazing work growers and bean breeders are doing, but I am honored to highlight it and let folks know. I also want to help growers as much as possible by showcasing all the glorious ways to use beans!

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