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After more than 40 years, edible beans remain important part of Roger Carignan's crop rotation

Roger Carignan and his brother, Randy, rotate edible beans with wheat, canola, sunflowers, soybeans and corn on their acreage.

A man wearing a black sweatshirt, tan cap and blue jeans stands next  a white truck that says "Carignan Farms" on the door.
Roger Carignan, Walhalla, North Dakota, includes edible beans in his crop rotation year in and year out. Photo taken Oct. 18 , 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
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WALHALLA, N.D. — Raising edible beans is a family tradition for Roger Carignan.

“I’ve been growing them since I started farming back in the ‘90s, and my father grew them before that,” said the Northarvest Bean Growers Association member and former North Dakota Dry Bean Council board member.

Edward Carignan, Roger’s grandfather, founded Carignan Farms (pronounced CARRY-EN) south of Walhalla in 1950, and Roger’s dad, Ron Carignan, began growing edible beans on it in the 1980s.

Roger and his brother, Randy, rotate edible beans with wheat, canola, sunflowers, soybeans and corn on their acreage.

“It works good in the rotation. It splits up time at harvest so you don’t have to harvest all the crops at the same time,” Roger said. Meanwhile, edible beans leave the ground in favorable condition for the following spring.

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“It leaves a good, mellow soil,” he said.

In spring 2022, the Carignans planted 800 acres of pinto beans, fewer than they usually do because the cold, wet weather delayed planting. The brothers didn’t plant any black beans because they typically don’t produce well under the dry conditions that were prevalent in the fall of 2021 and expected to continue into the next growing season.

Pinto beans flow out of the bottom of a truck onto a conveyer belt.
Despite a delayed planting and late harvest, Roger Carignan's pinto beans yielded above average. Photo taken Oct. 18, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

The weather turned wet in April and May 2022, but Carignan Farms continued with their plan to plant pinto beans because they hadn’t purchased any black bean seed.

Pinto beans, like the Carignans’ wheat and row crops, were planted later than is typical — June 10 — and Roger didn’t have great expectations for them. Despite the delayed planting, dry conditions in July and a late harvest season pinto bean yields in 2022 were above average.

For Roger, who represented District 1 on the North Dakota Dry Bean Council, producing high yielding, good quality edible bean crops is only part of his commitment to the industry. He also believes it’s important to have a voice on issues such as marketing, policy and crop insurance that affect edible bean farmers.

Roger decided to run for the Dry Edible Bean Council position at the urging of someone who had served on it and told him about its work.

“I thought I’d give it a short, and try it for three years,” Roger said. “I ended up terming out after nine years.”

He served from 2013-22, and during that time held the offices of chair, vice chair and treasurer. He also was an alternate delegate to the U.S. Dry Bean Council.

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Throughout his years on the Council, he served on a variety of committees, including crop insurance. During his time on that committee, members worked and succeeded in getting dry edible beans eligible for disaster assistance.

Three men stand near  a truck that is unloading edible beans into a conveyer.
Roger Carignan hauled his edible beans to Columbia Grain Inc. in Walhala, North Dakota. Photo taken Oct. 18, 2022.
Ann Bailey / Agweek

Roger appreciated having the opportunity to have had a visible, positive effect on the industry and encouraged other edible bean farmers to consider serving on the North Dakota Dry Bean Council.

“There are a lot of things you don’t know as a farmer, and you get into issues and are really helping the dry bean industry,” he said.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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