PANHANDLE PERSPECTIVES: Panhandle dry bean breeding progress – Panhandle Pride

A field of the Panhandle Pride variety of Great Northern dry beans, growing in a plot at Kimberly, Idaho, where foundation seed numbers for the new variety are being increased.

Producers across the region were plagued with bad luck this year and those growing dry edible beans were no exception.

It was expected that yields would be lower in fields affected by the Gering-Fort Laramie Canal breech and tunnel collapse and those hit by major hail storms, but yields were lower across the board.

According to Dan Smith, chief agronomist at Kelley Bean, the fields affected by the breach and tunnel collapse actually produced a better yield than expected.

“In fact, they were not far off the yields from areas lightly affected from hail,” said Smith. “Most of the fields that received more severe hail or repeated hail events were not harvested.”

There were some acres under the canal that did not mature naturally, he said.

Additionally, yields on acres not affected by hail or the canal breach were on average 15 percent lower than the last couple of years.

“Our area had excellent yield in the last two years,” said Smith.

Smith attributes the decline to cold, damp weather in the area. Dry edible beans thrive in areas that offer arid and warm days and cool nights, according to the University of Nebraska’s CropWatch.

An early frost didn’t have much of an impact on the crop, said Smith.

“When a bean reaches physiological maturity and dries down, it cannot be affected by a freeze because there is not enough moisture left in the bean to freeze,” said Smith. “Very few acres in our area were damaged from the freeze.”

Harvest is essentially complete now, Smith said, but the process was slow due to the moisture received in September and October.

“The market is much stronger than anticipated due to harvest issues in most growing regions,” he said.

Nebraska is ranked first in production of Great Northern Beans and second in production of all dry edible beans. Most of the state’s dry edible bean production is concentrated in western Nebraska and consisted of anywhere from 140,000-200,000 acres, according to Cropwatch.

“We expect acres to be up in the 2020 crop year,” said Smith. “I would suggest grower plan early to get the seed varieties that work best in their dry bean program.”

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

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