Pinto beans belong to a family of dried beans that include kidney bean, black bean and navy bean. The beans are considered dry beans because they are harvested only after the pods and beans have thoroughly dried. According to the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute, the leading states for dry bean production are North Dakota, Michigan, Nebraska, Colorado, California and Idaho. Over 2 million acres are utilized in the country to produce dry beans. Pinto beans dominate as the No. 1 bean crop, followed by navy beans.
Pinto beans require well-drained soil. They do not do well in wet or waterlogged soil conditions. The beans also do not grow well in clay soil. Crop rotation must take place with pinto beans to avoid disease spread. Plant pinto beans in a location that offers full sun. Apply one application of 5-10-10 fertilizer prior to planting. Work the fertilizer into the soil at a depth of 6 inches and water thoroughly. Apply one cup of fertilizer for every bean row that measures 50 feet.
Plant pinto beans when all danger of frost has passed. The soil temperature should exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Soil temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will often result in poor germination and bean plants that are plagued by fungus. Plant seeds every two weeks into midsummer to have continuous bean production during the growing season. Beans should be planted 1 inch deep. Apply a 1-inch layer of peat moss across the tops of the seeds to help the soil retain moisture.
Bean plants require moist watering conditions. Beans should have 1 inch of water per week to thrive. Too much water can result in poor bean pod production. Inadequate water can result in the beans shriveling in their pods and drying out.
Fertilize pinto beans after a heavy rainfall using one cup of ammonium nitrate (33-0-0) for every 50 feet. Never allow the fertilizer to come into contact with the bean plants foliage. Lightly water the fertilizer into the soil.
Harvest pinto beans when the seed pods are thoroughly dry. This often requires a dry fall for a good pinto bean harvest. Be sure both the pod and seeds are dry prior to picking. Once the bean pods are picked the bean plant will die. Pinto beans contain 22 percent protein.