Dry beans

Dry beans are sorted at the Treasure Valley Seed Co. production facility in Homedale, Idaho. Growers are worried about a slow start to planting season.

Bean planting in southern Idaho is behind schedule due to persistent rain in May.

Total dry bean plantings, including seed crops, are less than half what they would be in an average year in the southwest part of the state and are even farther behind in the south-central area, state Bean Commission members said.

“Taking a five-year average, I suspect we are behind schedule by a week to 10 days” in the southwest region, bean commissioner and Treasure Valley Seed production manager Don Tolmie said May 30. The crop is probably 25 to 28% in the ground compared to 55 to 58% by the end of May in an average year.

One of the wettest Mays in many years “has delayed field work and delayed planting,” he said.

Growers likely still have two to three weeks to plant their dry beans and bean seeds, Tolmie said. “However, for some of our long-season beans — lima in particular — we are bumping up against the latest planting dates that we can comfortably plant and successfully harvest.”

A day lost in spring typically delays harvest by up to three or four days come fall, he said. “That is why timeliness is so important.”

Harvest occurs around the same time in the state’s southwest and south-central regions, but growers in the south-central area face more time-related challenges, Tolmie said.

“If they get delayed by a week or 10 days (planting), then the potential for a difficult harvest increases dramatically,” he said. “They don’t have the season length we do, and they are sometimes colder and wetter than we are at harvest.”

Commission member John Dean, president of Idaho Seed Bean Co. in Twin Falls, said May 30 he’s seen little or no planting so far in the south-central region as wet conditions persist. In an average year, the crop would be about 25% planted at May’s end.

“Even the growers who get in the ground early are well behind what they had planned,” he said. “It has just been too wet. People can’t get into the fields.”

About half of the south-central region’s bean crop is usually planted by the end of June’s first week, Dean said. This year, that is when many growers likely will be in early stages or even just starting to plant.

“It will go pretty fast,” he said. “It still depends on weather and how many more showers we get.”

Assuming conducive conditions, the area’s crop could be about 50% planted by June 8, 80% planted by June 15 and 95% planted by June 19, Dean said.

Growers want to plant beans “so they blossom before the real summer heat sets in, in July,” University of Idaho Jerome County Extension Educator Steven Hines said. If planting is too late, blossoms could be dropped due to heat, and yields reduced.

In a curtailed planting season, shorter-duration varieties are an option, he said. However, many growers have bought seed already or are required by contract to grow specific varieties.

Hines said harvesting later can ensure beans get the required number of growing-degree days but increases risk of frost or rain damage.

“The later these crops go before they can be harvested, the riskier it gets,” Dean said.

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