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Idaho’s bean harvest off to good start

Sean Ellis
With harvest under way, Idaho farmers say this year's bean crop looks good but there are concerns about possible mold issues in the Magic Valley area because of heavy August rains.

HOMEDALE, Idaho — With dry bean harvest under way in the southwestern part of the state, farmers and industry leaders say the 2014 crop looks great but there are some concerns about mold in southcentral Idaho.

Cutting of dry beans in southwestern Idaho’s Treasure Valley area will be about 20 percent complete before Labor Da. Cutting in the Magic Valley area of southcentral Idaho typically begins about the first week of September.

Dry beans are harvested about 10 days to two weeks after cutting.

The spring and summer weather this year has been ideal for dry beans and the good weather has continued into harvest, said Idaho Bean Commission member Don Tolmie.

“The crop is coming along really, really nice,” said Tolmie, production manager for Treasure Valley Seed Co. in Homedale. “Mother Nature has been very cooperative and continues to cooperate. Our harvest conditions continue to be just about perfect.”

Mike Goodson, who farms near Parma in the Treasure Valley, said the favorable weather has led to an early crop in some cases. For example, Medalist, a navy variety, usually is cut during the second week of September in that area.

“We’ll be cutting it tomorrow,” he said Aug. 25.

Bean growers in the Magic Valley area are concerned about possible mold issues because of unusually heavy August rains that skipped the Treasure Valley.

The Magic Valley bean crop looks good right now but farmers are worried about mold, said IBC member Dana Rasmussen, who farms near Paul.

“We had a beautiful spring, a beautiful summer and … everything grew real well,” he said. But, he added, “the recent rains could lead to some mold issues.”

Twin Falls area farmer Bill Bitzenburg said his bean crop looks average but there is significant uncertainty about the impact the rain had on the Magic Valley crop.

Bitzenburg, an IBC member, sprayed an anti-mold fungicide over his bean crop to protect it, which cost him about $60-$70 an acre.

“We’re hoping that will stop the mold,” he said.

According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Idaho farmers will harvest 59,000 acres of dry beans in 2014, up 28 percent from 46,000 acres in 2013. That number doesn’t include garbanzo beans.

Bitzenburg said concern heading into the season about a possible water shortage that didn’t materialize prompted more farmers to plant beans this year.

“People are growing beans this year who haven’t grown them for quite a few years,” said Rasmussen, who also does custom work.

Tolmie expects the overall quality of this year’s dry bean crop to be above-average.

“Yields are average to above average but the quality of Idaho’s dry beans is going to be exceptional this year,” he said.



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