[print this page]

US Bean Production Outlook
June 01, 2001

By John Parker, Former USDA Dry Bean Market Analyst

Most American dry bean farmers have suffered from relatively low prices during the last two years. They are expected to again decide to shift more of their land to other crops in 2001. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture made a first estimate for the area planted in dry beans in 2001. Their prospective plantings survey indicated that U.S. dry bean may decline about 17 percent in 2001 to about 1.453 million acres.

U.S. farmers planted 710,720 hectares of dry beans in 2000, and harvested only 650,000 hectares. If prices remained low during the season, some farmers would cancel plans to harvest beans. They could sometimes use the land to grow other crops in some of the time while beans would have occupied the fields.

Nearly all commercial production of edible beans in the U.S. is mechanized. This means that most growers have a comparatively large farm. While some special tooling needs to be done for machines to harvest beans, some machines can be fitted to also harvest other crops. The same tractors which are used with implements preparing the soil for beans are used for this task for other crops. Beans are less costly to grow than corn because they do not need much fertilizer.

The outlook for U.S. dry bean production in 2001 is affected by the relatively significant setbacks indicated for the area to be planted in several major bean producing states  particularly North Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Michigan. The indicated 30 percent reduction for the 2001 area of dry bean cultivation in Michigan relates to the loss of market share for navy pea beans in the UK as Canada became more competitive. Farmers in Montana, New York, and Utah are expected to plant more beans in 2001.

Gross receipts
Major reasons U.S. farmers are deciding to cultivate a smaller area of dry beans in 2001 is the decline for gross receipts per acre in 2000, and the outlook for the coming year. News about export markets has not been encouraging in early 2001, and prices offered farmers have been relatively low for most types of beans.

The national average of gross receipts dropped a tenth to $263.07 in 2000, down from $291.74 in 1999. There was a wide range in the average gross receipts for different states. Californias average gross receipts rose about 1 percent in 2000 to $506.25 per acre, compared with the 40 percent decline in Michigan to $208.36.

The average gross receipts for dry beans in North Dakota fell 8.6 percent in 2000 to $184.19 per acre. Farmers in Nebraska had good yields and saw an increase of 1.6 percent for their gross receipts, which rose to $331.41 per acre. Minnesota had a gain of 6.3 percent for dry bean receipts, which were up to $284.67 per acre.

Some states with the use of irrigation for part of the crop have higher gross receipts than those where farmers usually depend on rainfall for moisture. The average gross receipts rose 12 percent to $361.76 per acre in Wyoming in 2000, while they increased 6.3 percent to $324.79 in Oregon. Gross receipts in Washington state remained steady at $359.38 per acre in 2000, but they were below the peak of $467.50 per acre in 1998. Gross receipts in Wisconsin rebounded 12.9 percent in 2000, but remained below the $430.56 attained in 1998. Idaho farmers had gross receipts of $340.91 per acre in 2000, which was 8.7 percent above 1999. Colorado farmers received gross receipts of $277.27 per acre in 2000, a decline of 3.4 percent from 1999.

North Dakota
Farmers in North Dakota may plant only about 500,000 acres of dry beans in 2001, down from the 610,000 acres planted in 2000. Low prices and some weather problems caused farmers to not harvest all the area they had planted in 2000. However, good yields for the fields which were harvested pushed North Dakotas dry bean output up by 21.5 percent to 7.6 million hundredweight during 2000. This was a different direction than the 20.1 percent decline for national dry bean production to 26.4 million hundredweight.

Michigans dry bean production fell by 44 percent in 2000 to 4.1 million hundredweight. Navy pea bean prices declined, and more land was shifted to other crops in Michigan. Corn yields are usually higher in Michigan than North Dakota. A longer growing season makes other crops more competitive with edible beans in Michigan. Another decline for Michigans dry bean area has been indicated for 2001, which may be 30 percent below 2000.

Californias dry bean production declined 14.5 percent to 2.1 million hundredweight in 2000. California provides most of the lima beans and blackeyes produced in the U.S. The average yield for edible beans remained steady at 1,825 pounds per acre in California during 2000. The other major producer of blackeyes is Texas, where edible bean production in 2000 was only a third the 1999 level of 701,000 hundredweight.

Relatively high yields are obtained by dry bean farmers in western Nebraska, northeastern Colorado, and eastern Wyoming. Nebraskas dry bean output declined 13.4 percent in 2000 to 3.23 million hundredweight. Production in Colorado was down 28 percent in 2000 to 1.98 million hundredweight. Wyomings output fell 3.3 percent to 762,000 hundredweight in 2000. If prices were higher, farmers in this area would probably look more favorably towards planting beans in 2001.

However, the first NASS report on prospective planting indicated that Nebraska farmers may reduce their edible bean area by 15 percent in 2001. Wyoming farmers may reduce dry bean area by 6 percent in 2001. The indicated drop of 25 percent for prospective area to be planted by Colorado farmers stems partly from low pinto bean prices and a lack of good news about extra export sales to Mexico.

Gross receipts decline
In some areas where dry beans are an important crop, income from other crops is not increasing to offset the lower bean prices and sales. This means a lower income for farmers in some areas. As their income declines, business people in small towns in some significant bean areas also are suffering from smaller sales.

Total U.S. farm gross receipts from dry beans declined from $547.6 million in 1999 to $522.6 million in 2000. Gross receipts fell 16 percent in North Dakota to $96.7 million, which was a third below the peak of $151.9 million attained in 1998.

Michigans gross receipts from dry beans tumbled 53.6 percent in 2000 to $57.4 million. Nebraskas value for gross receipts declined 15 percent in 2000 to $51.7 million. Californias dry bean receipts dropped 14.5 percent to $56.7 million in 2000. Minnesotas good yields in 2000 meant a reduction of just 3.4 percent for gross receipts to $42.7 million. Montana and Oregon each had an increase of 15 percent for gross receipts in 2000, with Montanas value rising to $9.1 million, while Oregons rose to $3.8 million. Idahos dry bean gross receipts fell 7 percent to $30 million in 2000.

Low prices
The last good year in the view of many bean farmers was 1998, when the average farm price for dry beans was 18.7 cents per pound. The price fell to 16.6 cents per pound in 1999, and dropped another 3.4 percent to 16 cents per pound in 2000. Michigans average dry bean price tumbled from 21.6 cents per pound in 1998 to 16.8 cents in 1999, and dived 17.3 percent to just 13.9 cents per pound in 2000. North Dakota farmers suffered a 30.3 percent reduction in average price to 12.7 cents per pound in 2000. Nebraska farmers had only a 2 percent reduction in average price to 16 cents per pound in 2000, although their average had been 18 cents per pound in 1998.

Californias average dry bean price was steady at 27 cents per pound in 2000, although it had been 36 cents per pound in 1998. Lima beans and blackeyes produced by California farmers traditionally have a higher price than most other types of beans.

New producers of dry beans in South Dakota received an average of 14.6 cents per pound for their sales in 2000. The average price for dry beans sold by Idaho farmers rose 14.3 percent to 17.5 cents per pound in 2000. Some types of beans grown under irrigation have a good demand for salad bars. It is obvious from the facts about the area of dry beans farmers harvested in 2000, and the indicated area in 2001 that the industry is in need for help. A rebound for export sales could help trigger a rebound for prices from the low levels which recently were prevailing for most types of beans.

While competition from China and Canada appears to make the outlook for U.S. dry bean exports in 2001 discouraging, some interesting food aid sales have provided some good news. An example of a surprise export sale for some analysts was the shipment of 1,500 tons of Great Northern beans to Georgia. Other FSU republics could also be larger buyers of U.S. beans.


Other Headlines

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust


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