In the districts producing large amounts of field beans the threshed product is delivered by the farmers at elevators or special bean houses managed by dealers who attend to the work of cleaning, grading and picking. In Michigan there are over 200 bean elevators provided with the best machinery for preparing the crop for market. While the machines remove most of the dirt and broken beans, some hand picking is necessary to get the crop thoroughly cleaned. To facilitate this tedious work a machine spreads the beans thinly on a revolving broad belt, which passes slowly before the picker. The speed of the belt is controlled by the person removing the defective beans. Girls and women are employed extensively to do this work, some houses maintaining a force throughout the year. Dealers who contract for the crop, generally furnish bags to the farmers free of charge.
String or snap beans are often sorted before marketing to remove broken or damaged pods. They are generally carried in bushel hampers and shipped by express and refrigerated freight, a car holding about 600 hampers. The hampers should be well filled and the pods as fresh and plump as possible. Half-bushel baskets are often used for local markets.
Green shell beans are usually marketed in berry baskets in both pint and quart sizes. Green shell limas are regarded as quite a luxury and usually command good prices.
In 1900 the average yield of field beans in the United States was 11 1-5 bushels an acre. The most successful growers often obtain double this yield. The price varies considerably, but ranges from $1.50 to $2 a bushel. Snap beans should produce 200 bushels an acre, although the yield is often less. A net return of $100 an acre, after deducting freight and commission charges, is regarded as satisfactory. Prices vary greatly from year to year, and the net profits some seasons are not encouraging.