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Market Outlook
June 19, 2006

USDAs initial estimate of dry bean prospective planted acreage for 2006 was 1.71 million acres, an increase of 3% over 2005.  This was somewhat of a surprise, as many in the industry were bracing for a slight reduction in planted acreage this year due to poor prices and poor demand for the traditional dry bean types (pinto, black and navy beans).  And that might still be the case, as the increase in acreage was more due to an increase in the non-traditional dry beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans. 

Chickpeas have become a very good alternate crop for producers in the Northern Plains states (like N.D.) where planting options are limited to small grains.  Strong demand for peas has also helped influence producers to increase their acreage of chickpeas.

A breakdown of the prospective planting acreage of the major production states is listed in the table below:

These six states account for 83% of the nations dry bean production.  USDA does not break down the different classes of dry bean acreage until later in the year (June) but we estimate this years acreage break-down for the major three classes (which makes up for about 69% of the dry beans produced in the nation) of dry beans at:

Pinto beans: 48% or about 820,000 acres, up 6%

Navy beans: 13% or about 222,000 acres, down 5%

Black beans: 8% or about 137,000 acres, up 23%

The states that are the major producers of each class of dry beans and the percentage of the crop they produce are:

Pinto beans: ND: 61%, CO: 11%, and NE: 9%

Navy beans: ND: 43%, MI: 29%, and MN: 22%

Black beans: MI: 55%, ND: 24%, and MN: 6%

By knowing the approximate acreage of each class and the percent of the class that each crop produces, one can initially project that the acreage for the major classes of dry beans for the major producing states is:

Pinto beans: ND: 500,000 acres, CO: 90,000 acres, and NE: 74,000 acres

Navy beans: ND: 95,000 acres, MI: 64,000 acres, and MN: 49,000 acres

Black beans: MI: 75,000 acres, ND: 33,000 acres, and MN: 8,000 acres.

The acreage estimates are just that, estimates, figured out by taking the past three year average for planted acreage.  The estimates could change this year due to the large increase in chickpea acreage, which would result in N.D. acreage to be off more than the other states.

Exports, Canadian Acreage

Prices that have been flat to near historic lows prompted Statistics Canada to project a decline in Canadian dry bean acreage this year (see initial estimate that follows).  With the exception of Saskatchewan, dry edible beans are grown in all the major crop-producing regions of Canada, including Alberta and Quebec, with Manitoba and Ontario the largest producers. This might help provide market support down the road.

Also encouraging is that during the first 6 months of the marketing year (September 2005 - February 2006),
U.S. exports of dry beans jumped 60% from a year earlier, to 4.1 million bags (cwt), according to USDA.  Among the leading dry bean classes, exports of pintos (up 84%), black (up 60%), and Great Northern (25%) posted increases. Short world supplies and drought in Spain have helped boost exports of chickpeas/garbanzos 182% from a year earlier.

Recent interest from
Iraq for Great Northern beans would provide further export market support, and with merchantable dry bean stocks reportedly low in Mexico due to the drought-shortened spring/summer 2005 crop, export opportunities in Mexico may provide support in coming months.

With lower prices and the weaker U.S. dollar, export volume was higher among many of the top export destinations, including
Mexico (up 163%) and Canada (up 146%). U.S. exports to the United Kingdom, Japan, and France (up 48%) were also higher. For all dry beans, the September-February 2005/06 average U.S. dry bean export unit value was down 9% from the previous year, to 27 cents per pound, according to USDA (get USDA market updates online at:  - scroll down to dry bean section.

Acreage is one part of the new crop price equation, production/yield is the other. There is still a lot that can happen between now and harvest, but generally the earlier the crop is planted, the better the potential yield is.

USDAs revised planting report released June 30 can be found online at

Martinson ( is a grain market analyst with Progressive Ag Marketing, Fargo.


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