A tale of two beans

This spring prices were better for soybeans than edible beans, but the tables are turning, farmers were told during the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association annual plot tour Aug. 7.

Soybean prices are softening because a big crop is expected in the United States this fall, while tighter edible bean supplies in North America and Argentina mean steady to higher prices depending on the bean type.

“We’re probably looking at (soybean) prices in the $10- to $12-a-bushel range this coming marketing year,” Delmar Commodities general manager Dale Heide told tour participants.

Prices could start around $10.50 a bushel this fall and perhaps bring $11 to $12 by next spring. Soybean yields in the United States this fall will be the major factor affecting prices early on, followed by South American planting intentions in February and March, he said.

“Indications are they’ll (South American farmers) seed massive amounts of soybeans again (in 2014).”

The positive thing about soybeans is the amount grown in Manitoba, or even all of Western Canada, will not affect soybean prices because the U.S. and South America produce so much more, Heide said.

Soybean prices, which went as high as $16 a bushel last year, plus near-record yields in Manitoba last fall, saw farmers seed an estimated record 1.08 million acres of soybeans this spring despite a late, and in many areas, wet spring.

Poor planting conditions probably discouraged edible bean plantings, which fell 29 per cent to an estimated 95,903 acres, according to Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation figures.

Since edible beans are harder to grow and were earning less many Manitoba farmers switched to soybeans this spring, said Dennis Lange, a farm production adviser and bean expert with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI).

North American navy, pinto and black bean production is expected to be down a third this coming marketing year, said Ivan Sabourin, vice-president of Legumex Walker.

Argentine black, kidney and cranberry production has suffered too and that will result in tighter supplies, he said.

Pinto bean production in North Dakota is expected to fall 40 per cent this year because a wet spring prevented planting or wrecked some of what was seeded.

“I’m very comfortable that we’re going to have a good year this year,” Sabourin said. “Let’s take advantage of that. Let’s not keep any carry-over for next year because if commodity (soybean, corn and wheat) prices continue to slide we’re expecting a lot of edible beans (to be planted) next year in North America and I definitely expect a $5 to $10 (per hundredweight) discount for the ’14 crop versus this year.”

About the author

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Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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