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Low acreage, tight supply bump up edible bean prices

Pinto and navy bean prices in North Dakota and Minnesota were $0.44 to $0.48 per pound on June 27, Black beans, meanwhile, were fetching $0.45 per pound, said Randy Martinson, owner of Martinson Ag Risk Management in Fargo, North Dakota.

Edible beans. Erin Brown photo.
A decline in edible bean acreage, combined with a tight supply, is expected to support high prices into harvest.
Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC
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Navy, pinto and black bean prices, which are at record or near record levels, are expected to remain strong into harvest as the wet spring that resulted in a reduction in edible bean acreage shored up the market, said a market watcher.

“Some guys abandoned planting beans,” said Randy Martinson, owner of Martinson Ag Risk Management in Fargo, North Dakota. “ I don’t think the acres are going to be there."

On March 31, 2022, the National Agricultural Statistics Service Planting Intentions report, based on a survey of farmers in production states, estimated the total U.S. dry edible bean acreage would be 1.3 million. The agency estimated North Dakota acreage at 650,000 and Michigan and Minnesota, each, at 200,000.

Martinson believes that actual dry edible bean acreage will be less than that because Minnesota and North Dakota farmers decided it was too late and wet to plant edible beans.

For example, Grand Forks County, North Dakota, a prime edible bean growing area, was especially hard hit, he said.

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Meanwhile, edible bean supplies are tight, a factor that also was supporting the market. Edible bean production, like other crops, was drought-reduced in 2022.

The market has responded to the reduction in acreage and tight supply by boosting prices.

Pinto and navy bean prices in North Dakota and Minnesota, were $0.44 to $0.48 per pound on June 27. Black beans, meanwhile, were fetching $0.45 per pound, Martinson said.

“That's the highest prices we’ve seen in that time frame,” he said.

North Dakota and Minnesota edible bean acreage also declined in 2021, when the two states’ farmers planted 150,000 and 35,000 fewer, respectively, than they did in 2020.

The decline in acreage combined with drought conditions, reduced 2021 production to 6.4 million hundredweight, which was a 50% decline from 2020, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. In Minnesota, 2021 production was 4.6 million hundredweight, down 17% from 2020, the statistics service said.

Ending stocks of pinto beans as of July 2021 were 2.4 million hundredweight, according to the Upper Great Plains Institute. Navy ending stocks were 674,000 hundredweight, the Upper Great Plains Institute said.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture expects there only to be a small amount of dark, red key and navy bean carried over, said Mitch Coulter, Northarvest Bean Growers executive director.

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Most of the carryover of edible beans is the result of transportation logistics, which includes an increase in container costs. Processors have indicated that the cost of a container can reduce the profit on a shipment of edible beans by one-third, Coulter 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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