Snap Bean Production at Ulmer Farms

This Learn Now video on snap bean production is the latest in a series of Penn State Extension videos on Pennsylvania farmer’s production of processing vegetables.
Snap Bean Production at Ulmer Farms - Videos


Other videos cover potatoes and processing tomatoes.


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View Transcript

(subtle crash) (mouse clicking)

- [Narrator] We are on the road to visit Ulmer Farms in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Seth Ulmer specializes in snap bean and tomato production.

The farm started in 2001 by Seth Ulmer and has grown to 1,200 acres today.

All video footage and images were taken at Ulmer Farms in Clinton County, Pennsylvania during the summer of 2018.

Ulmer Farms is a 1,200 acres farm in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, where Seth and Liz Ulmer have been growing soy beans, corn, processing tomatoes, and processing snap beans since 2001.

We've been visiting with Seth to learn more about his processing snap beans, which are grown on 120 acres.

Compared to his other crops, snap beans are a short season crop, reaching maturity in about 60 days.

(tractor motor)

In this operation, seeds are planted with 30-inch center-to-center row spacing with one to two inches between plants in a row with this 16 row mechanical planter.

This results in 90 to 100,000 plants per acre.

Seeds are set one to 1-1/2 inches deep, depending on soil moisture.

When it is dry, the seeds are planted a little deeper.

(tractor motor)

Here you can see liquid fertilizer being applied at planting.

(Tractor and wind noises)

The field is rolled after planting.

Rolling firms the soil around the seed and levels the soil surface.

Which promotes uniform seed germination and growth.

The soil in front and to the right of the tractor still contains the planting ridges.

While the soil to the left has been rolled.

(tractor and wind noises)

(Machinery noises)

Leveling the soil surface also facilitates harvest by allowing the snap bean harvester head to be close to the ground.

(Tractor, engine noises)

After about sixty or so days the snap beans are ready for harvest.

Harvest is very coordinated as beans up and down the east coast need to be harvested in a short time.

The window for harvesting a mature crop is only about three days.

Four harvesters with 12 1/2 foot heads and each which harvest five rows at a time are brought into this operation.

(Tractor noises)

Harvesters move 1mph.

(Machinery noises)

The driver must align the center of the front rotary brush with the top of the bean plants.

The head tilts with the ground roller slightly touching the soil surface.

This allows the whole head to follow the contour of the ground to maintain picking height.

Snap beans are stripped from the plant leaving the stem behind, while not picking up any soil.

(Harvester noises)

Leaves and other waste are ejected to the side.

(Harvester noises)

(Machinery noises)

Snap beans then travel up a conveyor belt and into a hopper in the back.

This is just to give you an ideas of what the plant looks like before harvest.

Compared to the past with the harvester where only the main stems are left behind after harvest.

(Truck noises)

Depending on weather conditions trailers are placed either in or around the field to collect beans from the harvesters.

These then depart and take the beans to canneries in New Jersey, and North Carolina.

(Machinery noises)

(Video speed up noise)

Pennsylvania produces about 6,000 acres of processing snap beans a year.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture.

(Machinery noise)


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