The Crop

Kidney Beans

Kidney Beans


Kidney beans are planted every spring.


Kidney beans grow from seedling to 18-24 inches in about 100 days.


Kidney beans are harvested a little more than 3 months after planting when the plants are straw-colored and the seed is about 18% moisture.

About Kidney Beans
Kidney Beans are “pulses,” the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They are dry beans that grow in pods on bean bushes. Red kidney beans are named for their similar shape and color to human kidneys.

Kidney beans are among the best sources of plant-based protein - just a handful of cooked kidney beans have 9 grams of protein! They are also rich in healthy fibers, which helps the human body moderate blood sugar levels and promote colon health. Kidney beans are also a good source of many vitamins and minerals that are important for a healthy body, including iron, copper, manganese, potassium, folate, and vitamin K1.

How a Kidney Bean Grows
Kidney beans are annual plants that sprout once a year in Wisconsin. After planting the seeds (that are beans from the previous season) at the beginning of spring, Kidney beans will sprout in 10 - 14 days. Kidney beans grow best in warm temperatures in well-draining soil, so the Wisconsin soil and summer makes a great environment for kidney beans to grow.

Kidney beans produce their own nitrogen, so farmers usually don’t have to fertilize the plants or add nitrogen to the soil during the growing season. Farmers work to keep weeds out of the earth and the soil watered, but not too wet. Kidney beans are usually mature and ready to harvest 100 after they sprout, when the plant is about 18 inches high and when they are straw-colored or yellowed, feel dry on the outside and hard on the inside.

The Bean Belt
The kidney bean belt runs along the 45th parallel from North Dakota, through Minnesota to western and central Wisconsin. The temperature, sandy soil, weather patterns, and ideal soil make it the perfect place to grow the best red kidney beans in the world.

Historical Timeline


The Doane family left Cheshire England by boat and landed in Cape Cod Massachusetts. By 1850 the family had migrated from New York to Sheboygan County Wisconsin. In 1858, Sylvester Doane, his wife, and his 9 children traveled west in a two oxen covered wagon and founded their livestock farm in Menomonie on May 17, 1858. The story of Chippewa Valley Bean really starts in 1931 when Sylvester’s grandson Russell was born. Russell, the 4th generation on the farm, graduated high school a year early in 1948 and had taken over the farm by 1958. Russell has been farming the same land (plus a lot more) that his great, great grandfather homesteaded 163 years ago and plans for his family to continue to farm it for at least another 163 more years.


Farming on the sandy soils of the Fall City prairie was always a difficult proposition and so in 1967 Russell readily embraced center pivot-irrigation and quickly purchased and installed irrigation on an additional 700 acres. Realizing that these soils couldn’t compete with land in the corn belt for growing corn and soybeans, Russell began seeking different crops that might thrive on the prairie land of north western Wisconsin. Russell embarked on an exhaustive research project, eventually concluding that the Red Kidney Beans would be the perfect crop for Doane Farm. The Doanes planted their first 500 acres of Red Kidney Beans in 1969, purchased special machinery to harvest their beans, and sold their first crop to Bush Brothers in Augusta, Wisconsin. It was also during this time that another very important event happened, Bob Wachsmuth, a student at UW-Stout answered a newspaper ad looking for farm help and shortly thereafter became a member of the family.


Unsatisfied with the prices they were receiving for their beans delivered from the field, Russell and his family decided they would try cleaning and processing their beans themselves and Chippewa Valley Bean was founded in 1973. By 1967 the Doanes sold off their dairy operation to focus on kidney beans and their rotational crops. Over the years the Doanes experimented with different varieties of kidney beans and in 1981 began working with Dr. Donald Hagedorn at the University of Wisconsin to start the company’s plant breeding program. That program continues to this day with the mission of improving the seed stock for the Doanes and their grower farmer partners in the region. Between 1982 and 1985 Russell’s children, Cindy Doane Brown, Ruth Anne Doane Hofland, and Brian Doane all joined the company full time as the 6th generation involved in farming the land. In 1989 Chippewa Valley Bean entered the international market, shipping beans for the first time to the United Kingdom and since then has won the Governor's Export Achievement Award twice for their work building an international market.


Today, Russell has stepped down from the company but still crosses the field to come to the office every day, Cindy now serves as president, Ruth Anne oversees quality, and Brian and partner, Bob Wachsmuth share production responsibilities for the farm and processing plant. The farm is 4,500 acres, 3,200 acres of which is dedicated to Red Kidney Beans which yields over 8 million pounds of beans a year. With expansion of the farm, the company has exponentially grown its processing operation and now processes beans from over 100 bean growers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The Doanes have added many key personnel in the last ten years including Tricia Kwak, who as plant manager oversees quality systems, chief operating officer Tom Kwak, and two of the 7th generation of Doanes to join the farm and plant, Charles Wachsmuth in sales and marketing and Marcus Doane on the farm. The company greatly expanded its operation in 2020 adding a 75,000 square foot distribution center and updating the facility with an energy-efficient design built to reduce plastics, water, and waste. The company ships over half of the red kidney beans consumed in the world -- over 130 million pounds -- with international sales commanding 75% of their inventory. Today, Chippewa Valley Bean is looking for more local farmers to work with to grow the premium bean to satisfy the global demand for the protein and fiber rich, great-tasting Red Kidney Bean.

From Farm to Table

Chippewa Chili

Prep Time:
Total Time:
Ingredients Instructions
  • 1 lb. hamburger or ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4 cups beef broth or stock
  • 2 cups tomato juice or V8
  • 1 – 16 oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes
  • 3 – 16 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 – 4 oz. can chopped or diced green chili peppers
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chili powder or more to taste
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ - ¾ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1/3 cup white rice, uncooked
  • Salt to taste
  • 1. In a large pot, combine ground meat, onion and garlic.
  • 2. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to break up the mean while browning.
  • 3. At this point, I drain the fat from the meat, but you don’t have to if you want if for flavor.
  • 4. Combine the cooked meat mixture with all of the ingredients except the rice. Bring soup to a boil and simmer for an hour.
  • 5. Bring the soup back up to boil and put rice in, simmer until rice is done.
  • 6. Adjust seasonings to taste.

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