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What's next for dry beans?

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- John Berthold received numerous phone calls and emails from Mexican customers just after the U.S. presidential election. They were concerned about possible changes to the North American Free Trade Act under the future Trump a...

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John Berthold, co-owner of the Walhalla Bean Company, presents a talk on dry bean production and markets to attendees of the 2017 NDSU Extension Service Roundup in Devils Lake, N.D. on Wednesday, January 4, 2017. (Nick Nelson/Agweek)

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - John Berthold received numerous phone calls and emails from Mexican customers just after the U.S. presidential election. They were concerned about possible changes to the North American Free Trade Act under the future Trump administration.

"The election really got their attention," said Berthold, president of Green Valley Bean Co. in Park Rapids, Minn., and a Grand Forks, N.D.-based merchandiser with Columbia Grain.

Mexico - where dry beans are a staple food - is the top export market for U.S. dry beans, accounting for about 35 percent of all U.S. exports of the crop. "These guys (Mexican consumers) are really important to us," he said.

Berthold spoke Jan. 4 on the second day of the two-day Roundup farm show in Devils Lake, N.D. Speakers, primarily from the extension service, commodity groups and private companies, addressed crops, weeds, livestock, marketing, crop insurance and many other subjects.

A winter storm held down attendance on Jan. 3, but weather improved and attendance picked up Jan. 4 at Roundup, which normally draws about 700 people. Most of the attendees were from North Dakota, which leads the nation in dry bean production.

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Berthold said he doesn't know what changes, if any, might be coming to NAFA, though he thinks the agreement might be "opened up."

Among his other observations:

• Soybeans will compete with dry beans for planted acres this spring, though the extent to which that will happen is difficult to determine.

• Seed stock of dry beans is "adequate."

• An unusually late, wet spring could lead farmers to plant more dry beans, which can be planted safely later than many other crops.

The scientists speak

Sam Markell and Greg Endres also spoke on dry beans at Roundup.

Endres is a Carrington, N.D.-based area specialist in cropping systems with the North Dakota State University Extension Service.

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He talked about research into whether yields and quality would be affected by planting dry beans earlier. The work found that current planting dates remain most effective.

"What you're doing - your typical planting periods - keep doing it," Endres said.

Markell is the NDSU Extension plant pathologist responsible for disease management information on broad leaf crops. His responsibilities include dry beans, among many others.

He talked about several crop disease and pests that can hurt dry beans. The list includes soybean cyst nematode, a parasitic worm that attack soybeans, as well as dry beans.

SCN, as it's commonly called, was first observed in the U.S. in 1954 in North Carolina and has been spreading west and north since then. It's now found in the Upper Midwest.

"When you go into your dry bean fields, keep an eye out for it (SCN) and sample for it at the of the (crop) season," Markell said.

Funding for testing is available from the North Dakota Soybean Council. More information on the testing program is available at county extension offices or online at ag.ndsu.edu/cpr.

Related Topics: CROPSFOOD
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