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TWIN FALLS — This year’s bean crop seems to be a tale of two sizes with small seeded beans, think black and navy beans, doing better than the larger cousins such as kidney beans.

Hot weather during a critical bloom period and origin seem to have determined whether a grower harvested an average crop or not.

Small seeded beans such as blacks, navies, pintos, pinks and small reds all originated from the hot regions of Central America and South America. When hot, dry conditions set in across Idaho in July and August, the small-seeded beans continued to grow.

“Small beans were like a Timex watch,” explained Don Tolmie, with Treasure Valley Seed. “They took a licking and kept on ticking.”

Of the small beans, blacks and navies seem to have done the best with average to slightly above average yields.

While most growers will harvest an average pinto bean crop, growers who plant dark red kidney or cranberry beans have seen significant yield hits. The large-seeded beans, which originated largely in India, shut down during the prolonged hot spell. Tolmie said many plants have crescent-shaped pods, which is a sign that the plant aborted beans. A few growers may harvest 22-25 hundredredweight of kidney beans per acre, but many will see yields fall to 13 to 15 hundredweight.

“The heat in July and August changed the whole picture of things,” he said.

Tolmie is concerned that with yields down so significantly, that it will be difficult to find enough seed next spring to meet the demand for large-seeded beans. Treasure Valley Seed contracts with growers to raise seed beans that other growers plant to raise beans destined for the commercial market.

Another concern is that color and quality of seed beans could further limit seed bean quantities next year.

Smoky conditions across southern Idaho also delayed maturity of bean plants, which is hampering harvest. Some growers are finding the beans are mature within the pod, but the pods and vines are still green, causing combines to be gummed up.

He had expected harvest to be wrapped up in western Idaho by October 1 — absolutely unheard of — after the rapid pace in early September but late maturing beans are taking longer to finish than anticipated. Still, seed bean harvest is running 10 to 15 percent ahead of normal.

Commercial dry edible bean growers had similar experiences this year. Pinto bean yields in the Magic Valley are running close to last year at 25 to 28 sacks per acre. Growers say many fields were uneven with green patches that delayed harvest.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 86 percent of Idaho’s dry edible bean crop had been harvested as of October 1, behind last year’s pace of 91 percent complete but ahead of the five-year average of 79 percent.

Pinto prices seem to be off a bit from last year. According to the USDA, pinto beans in Washington and Idaho are $21 to $23 per hundredweight, down from $24 to $26 per cwt. a year ago.

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