Edible bean acreage set to rise, but only modest increase expected

Edible bean supplies are very tight in southern Manitoba and although higher acreage is anticipated, better prices for other commodities will limit the increase, says bean merchant Tina Scott.

Farmers in the province grew only 51,000 acres of edible beans in 2011, after planting a more average 146,000 the previous year.

“Last year was an anomaly… and acres will come back to some extent but they won’t be back to where they were two years ago,” said Scott, of Duncan Seeds in Morden, a division of Legumex Walker.

She estimated potential edible bean area will be in the 80,000- to 100,000-acre range in 2012.

“Soybeans, canola and corn all have very good prices and farmers will be splitting (the acres) with them,” she added noting edible beans “take a little bit more work than soybeans.”

However, dry conditions could favour a few additional edible bean acres, said Scott.

New crop pricing opportunities for edible beans are currently few and far between, as a lack of willing end-use buyers is making local companies reluctant to stick their necks out. Scott said contracting opportunities were available earlier in the year at about 38 to 40 cents per pound for pinto and black beans. Early navy bean contracts were available for anywhere from 38 to 45 cents per pound.

“The prices would be down a bit now,” said Scott, adding a Mexican import ban on Chinese black beans would pressure Canadian prices.

Tight supplies are also limiting activity in the spot market, although end-users will need to make some purchases by summer.

“They’re all waiting to see if the acres will go in and bring the prices down,” said Scott.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin - MarketsFarm

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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