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Northarvest Market Outlook
June 21, 2007


Dry Bean Acreage Expected to Decline Slightly In 2007

Planting intentions? As one person in the heart of the Northarvest bean growing area quipped about what has been a wet start to the growing season for many, planting intentions are changing every day.

When all is said and done, however, dry bean acreage in the Northarvest area is still expected to be down slightly from last year.  USDAs March 30 Prospective Plantings report estimated that
U.S. area planted to dry edible beans is expected to decline 8% this spring from last years 1.63 million acres (table 1).  With the exception of California, dry bean acreage was expected to decline in all major dry bean producing states, with area down in 12 of the 18 surveyed states.

Prospective dry bean area was projected down largely because of the broad price strength for most competing field crops, with the primary driving force coming from field corn demand by a burgeoning ethanol industry.  Planting delays in the Northern Plains may affect corn intentions somewhat, but most likely by switching to earlier maturity hybrids or to soybeans.

Observations by state, from USDAs March Prospective Plantings Report:

California dry bean area was projected to rise 4% to 70,000 acres, the third consecutive annual increase in California since hitting a record low in 2004.

North Dakota, the leading producer of all dry beans (including pinto and navy), indicated just a 1% decline in area planted; Minnesota plans a 7% reduction in dry bean area to 135,000 acres  just below the states average dry bean area over the past five years.

Michigan, the second-leading producer in 2006 and the top source for black beans, plans to reduce seeded area just 2%.

Colorado indicated a 29% decrease in dry bean area for 2007. Compared with the 1990s, Colorado dry bean area has dropped by half, to an annual average of 92,000 acres this decade.

Idaho expects to plant 85,000 acres of dry beans in 2007, down 19% from a year ago. Although Idaho is diversified in terms of bean classes produced, garbanzo beans surged to 42% of the states seeded area in 2006.

Nebraska, the leading source of Great Northern beans and the second leading pinto bean producer, indicated a 29% decline in total 2007 dry bean area.

Since planting does not finish until June in some areas, further adjustments to acreage projected in the March report are likely to take place. The next acreage estimate for dry beans and other spring planted crops will be released in the June 29 USDA Acreage Report.  Find it online at













Acreage competition driving prices
The preliminary 2006/07 season-average grower price for all dry beans was estimated at $20/cwt  up 8% from a year earlier but 22% below 2 years ago. The rise in dry bean prices this marketing year is a result of both the basic supply and demand forces within the dry bean complex as well as the external pressure coming from crop markets competing for acreage. Given rapidly rising demand for corn from the ethanol industry, this same competitive scenario is expected to play out again in 2008, although perhaps at a more intense level.

Grower prices are averaging above a year earlier for virtually every class of dry bean covered by Market News data (table 2). At $23 to $24 per cwt (upper Midwest origin), grower prices for pintos are averaging about 73% above those of the previous year, with Great Northern bean prices up by 49%. Under normal market conditions, grower prices may not be as strong as they are today for classes like navy and black beans, which may have slightly weaker stock positions than other classes due to larger crops a year ago. However, prices have been bid up somewhat to prevent acreage from declining too far for these bean classes.

Per capita use up in 2006

After hitting a recent low in 2004, disappearance (also known as net domestic use, which is a proxy for consumption) of dry edible beans increased for the second consecutive year in 2006 (calendar year estimate) to 1.9 billion pounds. Despite the smaller crop in 2006, larger carry-in stocks from the 2005 crop, greater imports, and restraint in dry bean price gains helped support increased demand from both foreign and domestic consumers.

Per capita net domestic use of dry beans increased 4% to 6.4 poundsup 0.4 pound from the low of 6.0 reached in 2004 after 5 consecutive annual declines in per capita use.

In 2006, gains in per capita net domestic use were noted for both white (up 14%) and nonwhite bean (up 1%) classes. White beans (navy, Great Northern, lima, and small white) accounted for 21% of all dry beans available domestically  up from 19% a year earlier but down from 31% a decade ago. Most of the gain in white beans in 2006 came from increased use of navy beans. With a larger crop and higher carry-in stocks, per capita use of navy beans increased in 2006 for the second consecutive year. Although apparent market share was lower in 2006, nonwhite beans (e.g., pinto, dark red kidney, black, etc.) remained dominant, led by pinto beans, black beans, and the surging popularity of garbanzo beans (mostly kabuli chickpeas).

In 2007, domestic dry bean use will be hard pressed to continue the gains experienced the past two years due to current expectations for a smaller crop, higher dry bean prices, and generally lower carry-in stocks from 2006. Domestic disappearance could be enhanced in 2007 if exports weaken and imports strengthen from current expectations.

Exports off from previous years pace

During the first 6 months of the marketing year (Sept 2006-Feb 2007), U.S. exports of dry beans declined 7% from a year earlier to 3.8 million bags (cwt). Among the leading dry bean export classes, exports of navy (up 5%), black (up 51%), and baby lima beans (33%) posted increases. With rising U.S. prices and dwindling exportable stocks, exports of large lima, pinto, and Great Northern beans declined.

Despite higher prices, export volume remained strong among many of the top export destinations, including
Mexico (up 9%), Japan (up 10%), and Canada (up 7%). However, shipment volume was lower to the United Kingdom (down 27%), France (down 55%), and Haiti (down 35%). For all dry beans, the September-February 2006/07 average U.S. dry bean export unit value was up 3% from the previous year to 28 cents per pound.

Dry bean market data courtesy Gary Lucier, USDA ERS economist.  See more U.S. dry bean market information in the USDA ERS Dry Bean Briefing Room online:


Canadian dry bean acreage, supply expected to decrease

For 2007-08, production and supply of dry beans in Canada are forecast to decrease because of a projected 6% lower seeded area and lower yields, according to Agriculture Canada.  Production is expected to decrease for all major classes of dry beans: white pea, pinto, black, dark and light red kidney, cranberry, Great Northern, pink and small red. Canadian exports are forecast to decrease due to the lower supply. Carry-out stocks are expected to decrease, while the average price, over all types and grades, is forecast to increase because of the lower U.S. and Canadian supply.  See more Canadian market analysis online at 


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
Ph: 218-334-6351 | Fax: 218-334-6360 | Email: