Chili aficionados and salad-bar fans nationwide owe a debt of gratitude to Russell Doane, Wisconsin”s guru of the dark red kidney bean.
Doane, of Menomonie, has devoted a half-century to the bean, striving to produce the highest quality kidney bean at the most competitive price. Over the years he has become an expert on cultivar development, production practices, and design of planting, harvesting and processing equipment. His efforts have revolutionized the bean business, opening doors for greater crop production and new markets for dark red kidney beans, both nationally and internationally. His contributions to the bean industry have earned him the Honorary Recognition Award from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Doane is an innovator in crop production practices. He is continually testing bean varieties, crop inputs, seed spacing and irrigation practices. One of the many benefits of this experimentation has been the knowledge of how to manage Sclerotinia, an important fungal disease that affects many crops, including kidney beans. These changes have resulted in substantially less disease and significantly increased yields. Doane has shared the results with other bean producers, increasing the benefits to the industry at large.
Dark red kidney beans constitute a $25 million industry in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. Chippewa Valley Bean, the processing and marketing company Doane founded, processes beans from 20,000 acres grown by about 75 farmers in those three states. The Doane farm alone devotes about 2,400 acres to dark red kidney beans, producing 55,000 hundredweight annually. Beans produced from Doane”s Menomin Seed, and processed at the Chippewa Valley facilities, are in demand from California to England.
“Russell”s life-long commitment to agriculture has rippled through the community a number of times. He unselfishly shares his knowledge and agricultural experience. His expertise and financial support have helped many farmers get started in kidney bean production,” according to Dunn County supervisor Marvin Saxton. “He is the perpetual good neighbor, lending employees and equipment as needed.”
Doane has long recognized the need for ongoing research to develop multiple disease resistance in kidney beans, and has been a strong financial supporter of the CALS plant pathology department”s research program on red kidney bean diseases. This support has resulted in the development of multiple disease-resistant dark red kidney beans that have set new standards for the bean industry. Not only do the new bean varieties surpass existing cultivars with superior yields and excellent canning quality, they are environmentally friendly, requiring less fertilizer and chemicals. As a good steward, Russell”s farming practices combine integrated pest management and modern technology.
All of Doane”s children and grandchildren have chosen agricultural careers and are employed in the family businesses. Those businesses include Doane, Ltd. (growing and harvesting); Chippewa Valley Bean Co., Inc. (processing and marketing); Menomin Seed, Inc. (seed research and development); and Fall City Implement, which sells equipment and parts for specialized bean-harvesting machinery. The original acreage of the family farm was homesteaded by Doane”s great-grandfather in 1856.