The Central High Plains (Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming) is a major contributor to dry bean production in the U. S., planting between 300,000 and 400,000 acres annually. Nebraska leads the way with an average of 130,000-150,000 acres planted each year among these neighboring states. Nationally, Nebraska leads in the Great Northern market class, and is second in production of pinto beans, with lesser amounts of light red kidney beans also being grown.
Dry beans have historically varied from year to year based on prices and competing crops in the system. Production levels increase in those years when prices are favorable relative to corn, soybean, sugar beet, or wheat. Production was down in 2007 (110,000 acres) compared with the highs (260,000 acres) planted in the early 1990’s. Much of the lower acreages recently in Nebraska is due to the increased demand and prices for corn used in ethanol production.
Diseases are an important factor that often limits maximum yields fro producers. The root rots, particularly Fusarium root rot, are the most widely distributed throughout the state, but little has been done to establish extent of damage to crops. There are four major bacterial diseases encountered often found occurring simultaneously in a complex that are the most consistently damaging in Nebraska. Although few in number, these bacterial diseases have had major impacts on dry bean production and significant efforts have been and still are being made to manage them.