Drought results in a drop in North Dakota, Minnesota edible bean production

Total 2021 U.S. edible bean production is estimated at 23.3 million hundredweight, which is 19% lower than 2020, the August crop production report said.

Yields of pinto beans, like other dry edible bean varieties, vary greatly in North Dakota and Minnesota. Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC
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The North Dakota and Minnesota 2021 dry edible bean harvest is nearly in the books, and, as expected, yields are all over the board.

Eighty-three percent of North Dakota’s edible beans were harvested as of Sunday, Oct. 3, 5% less than last year, but 10% more than the five-year-average, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service-North Dakota. In Minnesota, the edible bean harvest was 86% complete as of Oct. 3, the same amount as in 2020 and 5% more than the five-year average, National Agricultural Statistics-Minnesota said.

North Dakota farmers were forecast to harvest 640,000 acres of dry edible bean acres in 2021, 18.5% less than in 2020, NASS said in its Aug.12, 2021, crop production report. The majority — 72.3% of North Dakota’s dry edible acreage — was pinto beans, NASS said. Black beans made up about 13% of the remaining acres, and 12% of the acres were navies. The remaining acreage was planted to other classes of beans, including pink beans, cranberry beans and kidney beans.

Minnesota's total edible harvested acreage this year is estimated at 229,000, 34,000 less than last year, according to the Aug. 12 NASS report. The three classes of beans with the highest acreage are dark red kidney beans, 67,700; black beans, 62,300; and navy beans, 50,600. Other classes include pinto beans, which has a planted area of 17,700 acres this year, NASS said.

Farmers across the United States will harvest a total of 1.4 million acres of dry edible beans this year, 285,500 less than 2020, according to the NASS report..


In Walsh County, North Dakota, edible bean yields this year range from 300 pounds per acre to 2,500 pounds per acre, said Brad Brummond, North Dakota State University Extension agent for Walsh County. The higher yields were in eastern Walsh County, in the Adams and Grafton area, and the lower yields were in the north, near U.S. Highway 2.

It appears that pinto beans, which make up the majority of edible beans grown in Walsh County, yielded better than black beans, he said. Brummond speculates that pinto beans are more drought- and heat-tolerant.

Black beans have only been grown in Walsh County for about six years, Brummond noted, and during that time conditions were wet. Now, that the weather has turned drier, "this is our time to learn” how the black beans respond to dry conditions, he said.

Besides reducing yields, the dry conditions this fall also have resulted in some cracked beans, Brummond said. Some farmers destroyed those beans and others are using them as livestock feed.

Total North Dakota 2021 edible bean production is estimated at 6.9 million hundredweight, 46% lower than last year according to the NASS Aug. 12 crops production report. In Minnesota this year’s production is pegged at 3.8 million hundredweight, 1.7 million hundredweight lower than 2020.

Total U.S. edible bean production is estimated at 23.3 million hundredweight, which is 19% lower than 2020, the August crop production report 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: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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