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USDA Economic Research Service: Dry Bean Outlook
January 15, 2003

Production Up 54 Percent


The estimate of 2002 U.S. dry edible bean production was increased this month to 30.2 million cwt--54 percent above the drought-shortened crop of a year ago. Harvested area was up 39 percent from a year ago and yield was 10 percent higher. The national average yield of 17.33 cwt per acre exceeded the estimated 30-year trend by 2 percent. As a result, U.S. dry bean supplies are expected to be much greater than the drought-shortened supply of last season. Carryover stocks at the start of the marketing season on September 1 were reportedly lightbeing low or exhausted for most classes.


The larger crop this year reflects double-digit increases in most Northern-tier States and California, with the greatest improvement from a year earlier in Michigan (up 529 percent), North Dakota (up 70 percent), and Minnesota (up 57 percent). Spurred by attractive dry bean prices this spring, North Dakota growers planted a record-high 790,000 acresup 80 percent from the previous year. Further observations regarding State-level production include:

  • North Dakotas 10.6 million cwt crop was record-large and the largest output ever in any state;
  • North Dakota produced a record-large pinto bean crop and the second-largest navy and black bean crops in the state;
  • Michigans navy bean crop was that states third-smallest on record, while black bean output was third largest;
  • In Nebraska, the signature bean crop, Great Northern, was the third smallest since 1980, while the light-red kidney bean crop was second largest;
  • Californias dry bean crop was the fifth-smallest since records began in 1919 as lima and blackeye output continue to trend lower;
  • Extreme weather (largely drought) in several States (e.g. Colorado, Utah, Texas, and Nebraska) increased abandonment of non-irrigated fields, with irrigated acreage faring well despite the heat.

The first estimate of dry bean production by class was released by USDA on December 10. As expected, national output for most major classes increased from a year ago, with the greatest increase for black beansup 298 percent. Shippers exhausted black bean stocks last season requiring substantial imports to help meet demand. Triple-digit gains in output were also experienced for small red, cranberry, navy, and baby lima beans. Output of pinto beans, which accounts for the largest share (43 percent) of U.S. dry bean production, rose 49 percent to 13.0 million cwtthe largest since 1998. Much of the increase in the navy, black, cranberry, and small red bean crops was due to substantially-improved yields in Michigan (18.5 cwt this year vs. 6.0 cwt) which was ravaged by drought a year ago.


Pinto Crop Up, Prices Down


Pinto bean output is estimated to have increased 49 percent to 13.0 million bags (cwt)the largest crop since 1998. Area harvested was up 45 percent to 736,500 acres and average yields gained 3 percent to17.6 bags per acre. Output was up in most major pinto bean states, with the notable exception of Colorado, where drought conditions, particularly in the non-irrigated western slope areas, forced planted acreage down 22 percent. The reduction in non-irrigated land boosted state dry bean yields to a record-high, with pinto yields reaching a record 21.5 bags.

With production up, pinto stocks have likely recovered from the lows of a year ago, adequately supplying the market but sapping strength from grower and wholesale prices. Grower prices (MN/ND) began the marketing year in September at $20.25 per cwt--down 4 percent from the highs of a year earlier. Prices had slumped to $14.00 by early Decembera third lower than a year earlier but just 4 percent below the average of the previous 5 years. The gain in stocks, lower pinto bean prices, and improved prices for competing grains will likely set the stage for a decrease in pinto bean area andproduction in 2003. Pinto bean exports declined 23 percent to 157 million pounds during the 2001/02 crop year. After a strong year in 2000/01, exports to Mexico declined last season.


Better crops in Mexico during the 2001/02 season reduced U.S. pinto exports to that country 57 percent, accounting for much of last seasons reduction. This September, pinto bean export volume got off to a strong start due largely to PL-480 sales to Mozambique (22 million pounds) and strong movement into Mexico (13 million pounds). With good supplies, lower prices, and continued food aid demand, pinto exports are expected to increase in 2002/03.


Navy Production Up, Prices Down


Navy (pea) bean production in 2002 increased 130 percent to 5.3 million bags. Reflecting increased planted area and recovery from the 2001 drought, area harvested increased 87 percent. Navy bean yields rose 23 percent to 17.3 bags per acrethe second highest since yield-by-class records began in 1987. Navy bean production was up in every state, including North Dakota (up 75 percent) and Minnesota (up 46 percent). Michigans crop recovered from the near-complete loss of a year ago, rising from 0.17 million bags in 2001 to 1.62 million this year.


With the larger navy crop, grower and dealer open-market prices have plummeted. Grower prices quoted for Michigan navy beans in early December were $11 per bagless than half of a year ago. This was also 28 percent below the average for the past 5 years and was the second-lowest grower bid for December in more than a decade. Lower navy bean prices, lackluster domestic demand, and improved prices for competing grains will likely result in a decline in navy bean area and production in 2003.


Navy bean exports declined 30 percent to 139 million pounds during the 2001/02 crop year. After an average year in 2000/01, exports to the United Kingdom declined 33 percent last season. Higher U.S. market prices, the strong dollar, and competition from Canada has recently eroded the U.S. share of the U.K. navy bean market. This September, navy bean export volume was up 6 percent from a year earlier as stronger exports to Canada offset a small decline in volume to the U.K. Despite good supplies and lower prices, U.S. navy bean exports are only expected to show a moderate increase this season due to competition with lower-cost countries such as Canada.



Source:  USDA/ERS


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