By DAVE WILKINS

Capital Press

Rain and harvest delays in North Dakota are creating a ripple effect across the U.S. dry bean industry.

Wet, muddy fields have delayed harvest for four consecutive weeks in the nation's largest dry bean state, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Oct. 26.

Just 54 percent of the North Dakota dry bean crop had been harvested by Oct. 25, compared with a five-year average of 93 percent by that date, the USDA reported.

The rain and harvest delays could adversely affect the quality and value of the North Dakota crop, experts said.

"It's kind of a tenuous situation," said Carter Wilson, a bean dealer with J.P. Wilson Co. in Twin Falls, Idaho. "It should translate into some higher prices for our growers out here."

Idaho growers have finished harvest of what looks to be a good-quality crop.

"Idaho probably had the best harvest conditions of any place in the country," Wilson said. "We have good quality beans here. ... It should be a good bean year."

Harvest problems in North Dakota have bumped up prices for good-quality beans in all growing regions.

Grower prices for new-crop pintos in south-central Idaho were $32 per hundredweight on Oct. 26 and are likely to go higher, Wilson said.

"Idaho grower prices will probably be up around $34 pretty quickly," he said.

Nationally, September's preliminary "all dry-bean" price of $30.90 per hundredweight began the crop year 16 percent below a year earlier, according to the USDA.

However, comparisons with last year's unusual high aren't a fair measure of this year's potential market, USDA economists said in a report released Oct. 22.

The 2009-10 marketing year got off to another strong start, running 28 percent above the average for the previous five years.

North Dakota is the big dog in dry beans, a category that includes pinto, navy and small red beans. Even with production down this year, the state is expected to produce about 8.2 million hundredweight of dry beans, about one-third of the nation's total.

North Dakota has a big impact on the overall market. If harvest conditions there had been more normal, grower prices in Idaho would probably be $4 per hundredweight less than they are, Wilson said.

Idaho, ranked fifth in dry bean production, will produce about 1.9 million hundredweight this year. Sixth-ranked California will produce about 1.4 million hundredweight.

Staff writer Dave Wilkins is based in Twin Falls. E-mail: dwilkins@capitalpress.com.

Online

U.S. dry bean industry: www.usdrybeans.com

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