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Dry Bean – Varieties

Variety Testing Procedures

Registered dry bean varieties are entered into the Alberta Regional Variety Test Program. These trials are run annually across the province to collect yield and agronomic data. This data is then made publicly available through the Alberta Pulse Growers and the Alberta Seed Guide.

The data and descriptions include:

  • Varieties currently being tested.
  • Varieties previously tested, with sufficient data, are also listed as “fully tested varieties”.
  • When pedigreed seed of the older varieties becomes unavailable in Alberta, the variety will be removed.

Choosing a Dry Bean Variety

Dry beans are described by their seed coat colour and size, which is referred to as the bean type. Within each bean type there are several different varieties with different growth habits. There are many different types available as seen below.

Bean types grown in Alberta include Great Northern, pinto, cranberry, pink, small red, yellow, black shiny and black matte. Great Northern and pinto beans make up the majority of bean acres in Alberta. 

Bean varieties can be determinate bush-type, indeterminate bush-type, or indeterminate prostrate vine and indeterminate with strong climbing tendencies. Producers should keep the bean growth habit in mind when choosing varieties, as the growth habit will affect production techniques. While all growth habits can be grown in row-type production, determinate bush-type are best suited for growers seeding on narrower rows or solid seeding. 

Taking note of the height of bottom pods is also important if they are not going to be pulled or undercut, but swathed or straight cut, as the lower pods can contribute to large harvest losses if, during harvest operations, cutterbars cannot get underneath them.

Variety Checklist


  • A number of site years provides the best data only if these sites represent similar growing conditions.
  • Check data from local zone, industry, and regional trials. 
  • See links listed below.


  • Use a combination of growing season precipitation and soil type – data from sites with abnormal precipitation the previous year may be suspect.


  • Determinate bush, indeterminate bush, or indeterminate vine (prostrate and strong climbing).


  • Standability considers vine length, amount of precipitation, wind damage, variety and soil nitrogen levels – all standability ratings are lower in dry years compared to wet years, even for the same variety.


  • Maturity is influenced by variety, precipitation, temperature and vine length.
  • Maturity ratings based on Early at 100 days; and Late at 110 days.
  • Days to flower – range from 50 to 60 days.


  • Seed size influences both seeding rate and seeding cost.
  • In some cases, larger seed varieties produce higher yield, but the cost of seed should be considered in light of any potential yield increase (market type – including seed size, shape and cotyledon colour – is also important).


  • Great Northern, pinto, cranberry, pink, small red, yellow, black shiny and black matte.


  • Percentage of pods that completely clear the cutterbar at time of swatting (~4 cm).


  • Various varieties have complete or partial resistance to Common Bacterial Blight and Anthracnose. Check out variety information.



Special thanks to Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.