Sean Ellis/Capital Press
BOISE — The latest USDA forecast shows 2013 dry bean production in Idaho dropped significantly from last year, a result of competition from other crops and lower yields.
According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Idaho farmers produced an estimated 2.26 million hundredweight of dry beans in 2013, down 25 percent from 2012.
The August forecast estimated Idaho dry bean production would be down 17 percent but many farmers and industry leaders thought that number was too conservative at the time.
Don Tolmie, production manager of Treasure Valley Seed Co. in Homedale, thinks the recent 25 percent forecast might even be a little conservative.
“I think it might actually be down even a little more than that,” he said.
Harvested acres totaled 119,000, down 25,000 from 2012, and statewide yields averaged 1,900 pounds per acre, a decrease of 200 pounds from 2012.
“The competition from other crops was a factor in the decrease and production was off on a per-acre basis,” Tolmie said.
An unusually hot summer and too much moisture during planting and harvesting time affected yields, he added.
Twin Falls farmer Bill Bitzenburg said a lot of Idaho farmers were offered good contracts to plant other crops and that took a bite out of total bean acres.
Contracts for dry beans typically don’t go out until spring, he said. “I think a lot of acres were already out to other crops by then.”
Tolmie said dry bean prices are good and stable and he and Bitzenburg both expect total bean acres in Idaho to increase modestly next year.
“Unless other crop prices go up a lot, I expect bean acres to be up a little bit,” Bitzenburg said.
Garbanzo beans accounted for 47 percent of Idaho dry bean production, followed by pintos at 25 percent and small reds at 9 percent.
Washington dry bean production is forecast to be 2.11 million hundredweight, a 5 percent decrease from last year. Harvested acres, at 114,000, were only off 1,000, but yields averaged 1,850, an 80-pound decline from 2012.
Tom Grebb, president of Central Bean Co. in Quincy, Wash., said competition from other crops and normal grower rotations were factors in the slight decrease in that state.
Grebb expects Washington dry bean acres in 2014 to remain close to the 2013 total.
In Washington, garbanzo beans accounted for 70 percent of production, followed by pintos at 14 percent and black beans at 3 percent.
Oregon dry bean production totaled 189,000 hundredweight, a 27 percent decrease. Harvested acres totaled 8,200, a decrease of 2,300 acres, and yields averaged 2,300 pounds, down 160 pounds.
U.S. dry bean production in 2013 is forecast at 24.1 million cwt by NASS, a 25 percent decline from 31.9 million hundredweight in 2012.
Bean production in North Dakota, the nation’s top dry bean producing state, is forecast at 7.1 million hundredweight, a significant decline from 11.7 million hundredweight in 2012.