Dry Bean Acreage
In 2023 there were 93 161 acres of dry beans insured in Ontario, which is the lowest it has been in at least a decade. Acreage peaked in 2020 at 157 500 acres and has been declining in the years since. In much of the last decade, white beans represented approximately half of the dry bean acres grown in the province; however, in 2023 insured white beans covered just 33 600 acres representing close to one third of the total dry bean acres. Kidney bean acres have also declined significantly over the past 3 years while black and cranberry bean acres have been more stable. In 2023 the Japan/Other category of beans had 9360 insured acres. Adzuki beans have a very attractive price and acreage has climbed to an all-time high of over 23 000 acres.
Early Season Weather Conditions
Spring was dry and planting started early. Beans were seeded deep in an effort to find moisture. Some producers decided to wait for moisture, but dry conditions persisted for a few weeks. In July, rains were persistent and heavy. Where dry beans were in standing water, there was some plant death, root rot, and lack of nitrogen uptake causing plants to look yellow. At this time the outlook for dry bean yields was somewhat grim.
Preventative fungicides for white mould were applied twice on many acres because of the persistent wet conditions. It is becoming increasingly common in Ontario to apply a blanket rate of fungicide for the first application then variable rate the second pass, where fungicide is not applied in thin or drowned out areas. Although white mould was observed in many fields and some losses were recorded, producers in many areas reported that well-timed fungicide applications effectively minimized issues with white mould.
Bacterial brown spot was observed late in the season on a significant acreage of adzuki beans. The disease symptoms look like common bacterial blight (Figure 1). Available bean varieties do not carry resistance to bacterial brown spot and it can be found locally on many different plant hosts. The weather conditions were ideal for disease development, similar to 2014, and symptoms progressed rapidly in late August and September. Plant death and pod drop were observed on some fields, and both small seed and reduced yield can impact profits. Some producers reported about 30% yield loss. While these losses impacted some producers, bean dealers have stated that adzuki yields in 2023 were some of the best they have seen.
Figure 1. Bacterial brown spot symptoms in dry beans. Credit: O. Wally, AAFC
Harvest conditions were good, and the majority of dry beans were of good quality. Dry, warm weather through September to mid-October was beneficial for harvesting beans in good quality and giving later planted beans time to dry down. The wet conditions in July resulted in poorer yields on some heavier soils, and some producers with very light ground that is often low yielding had some of their best dry bean yields. Agricorp yield data is not yet available but reports from producers and bean dealers indicate yields were average to above average.