OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska is expected to have its biggest crop of dry edible beans in more than 25 years.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that Nebraska is best known for huge quantities of corn and beef. But the state is also becoming a top producer of bean varieties that include pinto beans and the white-colored great northern bean.
A report this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that low corn prices and good growing conditions mean farmers can expect to see record yields for beans. The report stated that farmers in areas where beans grow well planted about 40 percent more acres this year than last.
That adds up to an expected 411 million pounds of beans for Nebraska, which would make it the country’s second-biggest bean producer this year behind North Dakota.
Nebraska’s dry bean production is concentrated in the Panhandle, where the arid climate is ideal for beans, said Gary Stone, Extension educator for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Prices for the beans are right around a farmer’s cost to grow them, said Jessica Groskopf, Extension educator at the university. She said farmers will generally see a profit for any crop they sold in advance at planting time, but not much profit for the part of their crop they’d sell now.
“It still looks a little better than corn,” said Paul Pieper, a bean grower north of Mitchell.
Experts said the average U.S. resident consumes about only seven pounds of dry beans a year, compared to about 58 pounds of beef.
The U.S. Dry Bean Councils said growing interest in ethnic foods and in plant-based foods may boost dry bean consumption.
“Unfortunately, beans aren’t sexy,” Groskopf said. “We’re constantly looking for that new chance to find those consumers who want our product.”
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com