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Idaho bean harvest a mixed bag after summer heat

Small-seeded beans appeared to fare best following heat

By Brad Carlson

Capital Press

Published on September 12, 2018 9:40AM

Most Idaho beans are grown for seed. Harvest is ahead of schedule in parts of the state.

Idaho Bean Commission

Most Idaho beans are grown for seed. Harvest is ahead of schedule in parts of the state.


Dry and garden bean yields could be at or below average this year in southern Idaho, depending on variety, following the prolonged high heat of mid-summer.

Idaho Bean Commission board member Don Tolmie, production manager with Treasure Valley Seed in Wilder, said large-seeded beans such as dark red kidney, light kidney and cranberry “suffered with the heat of July and August.” Small-seeded beans such as small whites, navies, blacks, pintos and Great Northerns “did well even through the heat.” His company handles dry beans grown mostly for seed.

Harvest in southwest Idaho is 10 days to two weeks ahead of normal and 65 to 70 percent completed, he said Sept. 11. He expects harvest to be mostly done in the area around Sept. 25.

Spring brought favorable conditions, and then “all the heat in July and August accelerated the bean crop tremendously,” Tolmie said. His warehouse had bean deliveries in the last week of July; he usually expects them starting Aug. 10 or so.

Large-seeded beans delivered early showed below-normal quality, and yields 25 to 30 percent or more below average, he said. But so far for smaller-seeded beans “yields are average or possibly a bit above, and the quality is good.”

U.S. bean acreage tends to increase — ultimately leading to flat or falling prices — when some other crops start fetching lower prices. Tolmie said he expects bean prices this year to be slightly below the 10-year average. Bean prices increased by 20 to 40 percent three years ago on lower acreage, just before prices for wheat, corn and soy started slipping, he said. Bean prices fell over the subsequent two years as acreage increased.

South-central Idaho’s bean harvest as of Sept. 11 looked to be on schedule, at around halfway completed, said Idaho Bean Commission board member John Dean, who owns Idaho Seed Bean Co. in Twin Falls.

“Our consistently hot weather this summer probably didn’t do our beans any favors,” he said. “Yields are probably going to be average at best.”

But beans in south-central Idaho fields have looked fine, helped by a lack of adverse weather, Dean said.

“Other than the heat during the growing season, we have had good weather,” he said.

Idaho Bean Commission Executive Director Andi Woolf-Weibye said there are about 500 to 600 growers in the state each year. Most of the beans grown are for seed. Growers of beans, a rotation crop, must go through an annual certification process.



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