Cornell Vegetable Program Partner Counties Lead Production, Research and Marketing for NYS Dry Beans
Dry bean growers, packer/shippers, seed suppliers, and Cornell faculty and Extension Educators came together to discuss the state of the industry and to receive reports of industry-funded research.
The March 15, NYS Dry Bean Meeting and Variety Evaluation, held in Geneva, NY brought together 44 dry bean growers, packer/shippers, seed suppliers, and Cornell faculty and Extension Educators to discuss the state of the industry and to receive reports of industry-funded research. According to Amie Hamlin from the Cool School Food Program, dry beans are overflowing with health benefits, being high in protein, fiber, iron and other nutrients. While the NYS Dry Bean industry has supported the Healthy School Food Program for many years, new interest has been stimulated through the NYS No Student Goes Hungry Program, which includes a higher incentive to school districts to use more local products and increases the reimbursement that schools receive for lunches to $0.25 per lunch to those schools that purchase at least 30% of their lunch ingredients from NY farms and food processors (whose product is comprised of 51% NY farm ingredients).
Cornell Vegetable Program (CVP) dry bean specialist Julie Kikkert facilitated discussions at the March 15 meeting between the Healthy School Food Program and the dry bean packer/shippers, and has worked with local CCE Farm to School Coordinators and CCE-Harvest New York to facilitate schools purchasing NY dry beans.
According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 72 western NY farms produce roughly 10,000 acres of dry beans, with CVP partner counties providing 6,820 of those acres. Leading counties in the CVP region are Monroe (2,288 acres), Steuben (1,360 acres), Genesee (1,192 acres), Ontario (906 acres), and Yates (844 acres). Black beans and red kidney beans are the types that produce well in our soils and climate. After local beans are harvested, they are sent to one of several factories in NY or PA for cleaning and processing into canned product or packaged for the dry pack market. Product is sold to local, regional, export and organic markets. The value of the NY crop varies, but averages around $7 million.
Other topics of high interest to the industry included market updates, development and testing of new varieties, as well as management of white mold disease, western bean cutworm insects and weeds. At the end of the educational meeting, the industry prioritized research proposals and allocated funds from the Dry Bean Endowment to five research projects, totaling $32,643. The group then moved to the Raw Products Building to view and evaluate 56 dry bean cultivars that were canned by Furman Foods and on display for taste and visual appearance.