THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION Todd Curtiss of the Yellowstone Bean Company represented the Rocky Mountain Bean Dealers Association, which covers the states of Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. The Rocky Mountain Region is the U.S.’s largest pinto and Great Northern bean producing area. “In terms of overall acres, we are actually up slightly for the whole region. Most of it is in Great Northerns. Pintos are up slightly, too, but this is mostly due to seed acres, not commercial acres.” According to Curtiss, the crop looks good, with above average yields expected in some areas.
“Those are likely to be evened out, though, by areas that are short on water,” Curtiss explains. “We had a mild winter last year. Bean fields in the Rocky Mountain Region are irrigated and rely on snowpack and reservoir levels for their water supply. It was dry in spring right up until planting. And then, like the rest of the country, we got too much precipitation and bean planting was set back about a week to ten days. We caught up a bit throughout the year; I’d say on average we are about a week behind. In some places, maybe just five days.”
Despite the rain delays in some areas, other areas like western Nebraska and Wyoming may not have sufficient water throughout the growing season. Additionally, in early August some areas were hit by hail, including parts of Wyoming and Nebraska.
“We are getting hail with a bit more frequency than normal,” says Curtiss. “It looked like we were going to have a pretty decent crop, a little above average, but then early August hail set us back and we got some possible water issues. I think now we are looking at an average year.”
The market, however, is driven by North Dakota and bean shortages there will keep prices high. “They are fairly strong now and I expect they’ll remain that way for another year,” Curtiss says.
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