Support seems solid for Manitoba bean crops

Winnipeg (MarketsFarm) — Solid prices should keep Manitoba farmers growing edible beans in 2020, although soybean area will likely drop, according to a provincial specialist.

Disappointing harvest weather in 2019 hurt yields and cut into harvested area for edible beans in both Manitoba and the United States. As a result, prices heading into spring seeding are at some of their best levels of the past year.

While the disappointing yields may dissuade some acres, “growers are still interested in growing dry beans,” according to Dennis Lange, provincial pulse specialist with Manitoba Agriculture. He added that dry bean meetings held in early February broke turnout records.

Overall, he expected edible bean acres would be down slightly from the 168,000 acres seeded in 2019, but still well above the five-year average of 120,000 acres.

Tight seed supplies of certain classes of beans, especially pinto beans, could influence some acres, according to Lange. The lack of fieldwork done last fall, due to the poor weather, may also hamper some seeding operations.

After hitting a high of 2.2 million acres in 2017, planted soybean area in Manitoba trended lower the following two years, hitting about 1.5 million in 2019. Lange expects to see another decline in 2020, with intended area likely below a million acres for the first time since 2012.

Disappointing soybean yields in 2019 had some growers reconsidering the crop, while lower prices were also causing farmers to back away from soybeans. However, “if prices change, that could shift acres,” added Lange.

Meanwhile, field peas are seeing more interest in the province, as the local processing capacity rises. Two new plant protein plants are set to come online in the province in 2020, and Lange said he was getting more calls than usual about field peas over the winter.

Field peas don’t do well with excessive moisture, which means farmers in wet Manitoba need to be selective about where they seed the crop, according to Lange.

After seeding 125,000 pea acres in 2019, he expected the provincial acreage base to grow to 140,000 in 2020. That would compare with the five-year average of about 100,000 acres.

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