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Crop Down 26%
January 04, 2002

By Brian Clancey, STAT Publishing

Dry edible bean production in the United States is slightly higher than projected in the USDAs October crop report, with this years harvest now estimated at 886,745 metric tons (MT). This is up 1% from October, but down 26% from last year, making it the smallest dry bean crop since 1988, when production was 873,261 MT or the equivalent of 19.3 million 100 pound bags (cwt) of merchandise.

Commenting on the latest numbers, the USDA said area for harvest is estimated at 1.25 million acres, 5% below the previous estimate and 22% below a year ago. Average yields per harvested acre were pegged at 1,568 pounds per acre, down 75 pounds from last year; while the average yield per seeded area plunged from 1,502 pounds last year to just 1,369 pounds.

Yields Generally Unchanged

Yields per harvested acre were generally unchanged to higher than revealed in the October crop production estimates. This was offset by a steep reduction in the estimated harvested area, with the biggest change taking place in Michigan, where only 60.5% of this years seeded area ended up being harvested. Of 215,000 acres of dry edible beans planted, just 130,000 acres were harvested, compared to 275,000 out of 285,000 planted acres last year.

Most States Expect Lower Production

Of the 18 dry bean producing states, 14 expect lower production than a year ago. Production is down 81% in Michigan and off 46% in New York from a year ago. Minnesotas farmers harvested 34% fewer beans than last year, while Wisconsins output fell 29%, and Wyomings production is cut by 39%. Reductions from last year also came in California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington.

Dry Weather Hurt Bean Growth

Dry summer weather and water shortages hurt dry bean growth in the North East, Midwest, parts of the Western Plains, and the West. Drought conditions severely limited the Michigan dry bean crop with average yield forecasts falling to their lowest level since 1936. Late August rains came too late to salvage the Michigan crop and a killing frost in early October ended regrowth of late beans.

Compared with a year ago yields per acre are down 900 pounds in Michigan, off 590 pounds in New York, down 470 pounds in South Dakota, 200 pounds lower in Wisconsin, and off 100 pounds in Minnesota. Yields are also lower in California, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Improved yields are noted in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Texas.

Production by class is down more than 50% from a year ago for navies, cranberries, and baby limas. Blacks are down 42%, small reds are off 45%, small whites are down 41%, and light red kidneys fell 38%. Large limas are down 29%, dark red kidneys fell 28%, pintos tumbled 20%, and great northern slipped 17% from a year ago. Production is up for blackeyed beans, garbanzos, and pinks.

- Clancey is editor of STAT, a specialty crop marketing newsletter. For information on subscribing, call (604) 535-8505; see the web site:; or write to PMB 803, 250 H St., Blaine, WA 98230


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