By Jonathan Kuntson, Published April 12 2013
Dry bean acres to dropBy Jonathan Knutson
Forum News Service
An official with an area dry edible bean grower association says he’s neither surprised nor dismayed by a projected decline in dry bean acres this year.
“We expected less,” says Tim Courneya, executive vice president of Frazee, Minn.-based Northarvest Bean Growers Association. “It’s a matter of determining how much less we’re going to grow.”
A generally strong 2012 dry bean harvest pushed down prices of the crop, increasing the appeal of competing crops such as corn and soybeans, he says.
U.S. farmers are expected to plant 1.5 million acres of dry beans, down from 1.7 million acres in 2012, according to the annual late March projection by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Dry bean acres in North Dakota, the nation’s top producer, are projected to drop to 550,000 acres from 700,000 acres in 2012.
Farmers in Minnesota, the nation’s third-leading producer of dry beans, will plant an estimated 150,000 acres, down from 160,000 last year.
Sales of dry bean seed had indicated an even bigger acreage decline, Courneya says.
Last year, U.S. farmers harvested 31.9 million hundredweight of dry beans, up from only 19.9 million hundredweight in 2011, when an exceptionally wet spring kept some area farmers from planting the crop.
Nationally, the average price for dry beans fell from $45.8 per hundredweight in July 2012 to $37.2 per hundredweight in January 2013.
In the same period, the average price received by North Dakota dry bean farmers fell by $10 per hundredweight, with the average price received by Minnesota dry bean producers declining by $11 per hundredweight, according to USDA.
The price for new crop dry beans, ones planted this spring and harvested this fall, are about $33 per hundredweight.
Current dry bean prices are “good, not great,” Courneya said. In contrast, “Corn and soybeans give farmers some very attractive prices to look at.”
A big wild card is the strong possibility of a late start to spring planting in areas of North Dakota and Minnesota where dry beans are popular.
Dry beans can be planted safely later than some other crops, which could cause dry bean acreage to increase if planting is delayed significantly.