Bean harvest is 10 to 14 days behind schedule in southern Idaho and part of Oregon after May rains delayed planting.
But so far, it looks like a cooler-than-usual July and August helped boost quality and yield.
Harvest as of Sept. 9 was going smoothly overall but was behind, lagging the five-year average by about 10 days, said Idaho Bean Commission board member Don Tolmie of Parma.
“The quality of the ’19 crop appears to be average to above average” in southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, he said.
Yields likely will be higher than average, so “assuming we can get the rest of the crop picked up, it’s going to be a good year for dry beans,” Tolmie said.
High heat in July and August did not come to the extent seen in the three previous years, he said. Large-seeded varieties like cranberry and kidney “don’t do well in those extended periods of heat, so we kind of dodged a bullet.”
Yields so far have been strong in small-seeded beans such as blacks and navies, Tolmie said.
Navy bean harvest on Sept. 9 was around 40% completed rather than the usual 55% to 60% for that date, he said. The lag is a function of late planting, “but the quality for navies to date has been good and yields have been strong.”
Cooler summer conditions helped beans ripen, mature and self-pollinate. Tolmie said high heat can interfere with pollination, reducing the number of beans in pods.
“This year we missed most of that heat, so we have good, strong pollination and good (bloom) set,” he said. “It is a nice year.”
Tolmie expects bean harvest in the southwest region to stay on track. and quality and yield to remain good, if conditions stay dry through October.
Bean harvest in the south-central region usually is around halfway completed or well underway by Labor Day weekend, University of Idaho Jerome County Extension educator Steve Hines said. It was around two weeks behind as of Sept. 11.
Wet conditions delayed planting by about two weeks, and the subsequent cool June slowed early growth in beans, corn and alfalfa in much of the region, he said.
“Typically we will have some pretty good heat at the end of June, in the 90-degree area, and we didn’t get that,” Hines said.
Recently, frequent small rainstorms in the region have challenged bean producers by delaying harvest or — where windrowers have come through already — prompting growers to turn rows over for drying and risk shattering some pods, he said.
“We feel like we will have less loss by letting beans sit compared to if we turn them,” said Bean Commission board member John Dean, owner of Idaho Seed Bean Co. in Twin Falls. As of Sept. 12, he was leaving swathed garden and kidney beans — susceptible to damage from moving when wet — undisturbed.
Since beans left on wet ground too long can mold or spoil, and they don’t store well when their moisture content exceeds 15%, “it’s a trade-off: potential loss by turning them versus potential loss by not turning them,” he said.