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The 2006 Dry Bean Harvest
September 18, 2006

Dry and hot  that pretty much sums up the growing season for many producers in the plains, from Texas to Manitoba, as well as dry bean growers in between.

USDAs August production forecast indicates that national dry bean yields, which have been trending higher by about 11 pounds annually, are expected to be more than 150 pounds below their 35-year trend (1970-2005).

As of mid-August, about half of
U.S. dry bean acreage was rated in good to excellent condition, down from 65% a year ago. This year, about one-third of the crop was rated in fair condition, and nearly one-fifth was rated less than fair.

North Dakota, where the crop is ahead of schedule, yields have been affected by dry soils (both topsoil and subsoil moisture is predominantly short or very short), with more than one-quarter of the acreage in poor or very poor condition. With dry soils and less than 3% of the states dry bean crop under irrigation, the first estimate of dry bean yields in North Dakota indicated about a 30% decline from a year earlier.

Soil moisture conditions are similar in Minnesota, with one-third of the crop in poor or very poor condition and yields projected to decline 21% from last years record high.

Michigan, conditions have been generally favorable; soil moisture is largely in the adequate range, and the dry bean crop is ahead of schedule with yields expected to be up 6%.

From the windshield, the dry edible bean crop in many areas of
North Dakota and Minnesota looked fairly good and stayed green longer than one might expect.  But rows that didnt close gave a hint of trouble, and in walking the fields, it was evident that conditions took a toll on many bean fields.  Pods are just not on the plants and if there are pods, youre looking at one to three beans, Dean Nelson, Colgate Commodities, Colgate, N.D., said on the Red River Farm Network.

As far as the quality, it looks OK with hardly any disease out there. But absolutely, yields will be lower than last year, says Nick Shockman, manager of Larson Grain,
Englevale, N.D.

Other observations as of the fourth week of August, from the Northarvest bean growing area, including a few comments from
Nebraska and Colorado:

Some beans stunted, some decent -- Here in Stutsman, most of the county was pretty dry. We are actually seeing beans stunted. Some areas got rainfall, so some of the beans look decent. Where ever it rained, it is OK, where it didnt, those are problem areas. We did have some blossom drop and early pod drop, but the ones that hung on seem to be filling. There will be beans to harvest, but it wont be like our track record. If we were to get rains at this point (latter half of August), it will help some fields, but not a great deal.

I dont know how these beans will react to the dry-down with drought. I think there is enough beans there so when they knife them in the windrow, there will be enough there to pick up. It wont be what it used to be, there will be a lot more dirt flying.

f I was to guess on quantity (yield) at this point, I would have to say it would be in that 6-700 pound range for pintos.  Thomas Olson, extension agent, Stutsman County, N.D.

Quality of early beans should be fine; green pods in later beans -- We have beans that have been knifed already (latter half of August). We have had beans that have been destroyed. A lot of our beans are turning yellow and maturing. The number of seeds and pods are way down. We are shooting at 800-900 pound figure with our pintos, ranging from some fields that will have to be destroyed and some in the 1,400-1,500 pound range.  On average, I would bet about one third of our crop is damaged.

Quality on the early beans is going to be fine. When we get into these later beans, I think we are going to be struggling with green pods in some of them.  We have bean fields that have emerged over the course of six weeks because of the dry ground the seed was planted into. I have a field east of
Park River that has emerged about 50% around the 1st of June, and then 30% emerged around the 10th of July and then I have 20% that never emerged at all, because of the dryness.

A lot of the beans are turning yellow early and starting to dry down earlier than usual. Harvest will bring problems.  You see a lot of greens in there, lots of small pods and there isnt a lot of foliage.  I dont think there is going to be any real bin buster beans out there.  Brad Brummond, extension agent,
Walsh County, N.D.

Navies seem to be hurt more than other bean types -- I range about a 20-mile radius of Crookston, so the crops are different, depending on the rainfall.  I did a lot of deep soil probing to see what the moisture was south of Crookston, and I had very little moisture in the entire soil profile.  Honestly, I didnt know what the plants were growing on, its that dry. When I went north of Crookston, I can find areas of moisture, in the lower profile, in the three and four foot depth. Some areas got some rain, which was very helpful.  If I had to generalize, I see the navy beans maturing very quickly, with an early harvest.

I work with a number of classes of dry beans.  Dark red kidneys seem to be taking this heat a little bit better. But, even those fields are showing stress.  I have some Great Northerns and small red varieties that are taking the heat OK but still have some stress.  But definitely, the navy beans seem to be hurting the most.

As far as quality, I have had some fields that are filling very well, and then I have had some fields that the beans inside the pods were already shriveled up. It really depended on what the moisture was in the ground.  I dont know what the yield will end up being  it could be all over the board.  I can see that some fields that have had good rains easily making 2,000 pounds and I think that some will end up with 800-1,000 pound range. It will all depend on how we fill out.  But I think the navy beans are going to be hurt, regardless.

If the beans are really dry, the problem with harvesting is that they could split very easily.  You may have some parts of the field where there were still some green and other parts where the seed is going to be very dry.   Dave Genereux, crop consultant, Centrol,
Crookston, Minn.

A lot of small beans because of the heat -- I have heard yield estimates from 300 lbs to 1,600 lbs, depending on whether or not you got showers, plus other different variables.  It really is a mixed bag around here. We may average 1,000 lbs.  We got real dry this past summer in this area. Our small grain crops are pretty good but the row crops really got hurt.  As far as quality, the comments around here, it is that there are going to be a lot of small beans because the heat got to them. That is what is going to be the problem. The area will have a below average crop. - Dan Webster, pinto producer, Penn, N.D.

Good yields anticipated in Walhalla area -- In our area, it looks like we will have an above average crop.  We got our first loads in yesterday. It looks like everything is on time. The southern area of Walhalla got hit by dry conditions while the northern, western and eastern part of Walhalla seem to have better crop conditions. We havent had a crop here in the past two years so we are happy that this years crop is looking good. The last few years have been terrible with it being too wet and then the early frost that hit our area.  We anticipate good yields. The samples that came were good quality and so far we havent seen much disease. We anticipate harvest to be in the first week of September.  I have toured the state and the beans are really beat up in some areas. You can see areas that will get 8 bags and then some areas that will see 1,500 to 2,000 lbs.  Darryl Berg, manager, Walhalla Bean Company, Walhalla, N.D.

Timely rains helped pintos for Burlington, Colo. producer -- Our beans are doing very well. Right now they are looking pretty good.  We had extreme dry weather but recently have had big rains. The rains will definitely help our pintos.  We have had a lot more weeds than we have ever had before. So far, if the crop doesnt get hailed, we expect the crop to yield very well.  It usually is the end of September when we harvest but this year will be earlier, probably the middle of September.  We expect the bean harvest to be early because everything else has been early.  Ruth Pekarek, producer Burlington, Colo.

Difficult for irrigated pivots to keep up with crop water demand in Nebraska -- The heat has taken its toll on the yields.  We are just starting to harvest now (latter part of August), just a few loads have come in. I have talked to the producers and the quality is fair and the beans are smaller due to the heat.  We have had a lot of 100-degree plus days which was hard on the beans. A few isolated areas have had some rains but our area had the heat and the drought. Everything we have here is under irrigation, either gravity or center pivots but even then, a lot of places couldnt keep up with enough water. The harvest will probably start around the first of September. This is early for us.  What is being cut right now is probably about 10 days earlier than normal. If I were to estimate, I would say we will have an average to below average yields. We had a very good crop last year. Quality was good and yields were very good so this year looks like it will be somewhat disappointing.  Dale Eirich, manager, Trinidad Bean & Elevator Bayard, Neb. 


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