Pulse weekly outlook: Edible beans on move

MarketsFarm — Following a lengthy 2018 harvest, Manitoba’s edible bean farmers are optimistic about the 2019 growing season.

According to an outlook report published in late December by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, pulse farmers are expected to plant approximately the same amount of acreage as seen in 2018.

However, after strong yields in 2018, Manitoba provincial pulse specialist Dennis Lange expects to see higher acreage output.

“We’re probably going to be looking at 130,000 acres of dry beans, with navy and pinto leading the way,” he said.

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Pinto beans are expected to take up the lion’s share of acreage, approximately 50,000. About 25,000-30,000 will be dedicated to navy beans and the rest will be split between less common beans such as cranberry and kidney.

Flagging soybean prices may encourage farmers to look to other crops, and edible beans historically have very high yield percentages. In 2018, the total yield was above five and 10-year averages.

Cranberry and kidney beans, however, require specialized equipment to manage the crop, which is a significant barrier to enter the market.

“Navy, pinto, and black beans require more management, as a specialty crop, but conventional equipment,” Lange said.

Historically, Manitoba farmers have planted up to 300,000 acres of dry beans across the province, but the average yield was lower because not every soil type is ideal for the crop.

Now, Lange said, “you won’t see big swings in acreage, because we’re growing in ground that is well-suited for the crops.

“Over the past 10 years, the average yield has increased.”

Current prices per pound are hovering in the 30- to 34-cent range, with navy beans peaking at 34 cents and pinto and black closer to 30.

— Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.