Buxton plant adds storage, starts handling black beans
BUXTON, N.D. -- Beans have long been big here, and the hill is about to grow. Central Valley Bean Co-op has added five more bins, increasing the cooperative's capacity by more than a third to 800,000 hundredweights (cwt.), according to General Ma...
BUXTON, N.D. -- Beans have long been big here, and the hill is about to grow.
Central Valley Bean Co-op has added five more bins, increasing the cooperative's capacity by more than a third to 800,000 hundredweights (cwt.), according to General Manager Gary Fuglesten.
The cooperative, founded in 1982, has seen the amount of beans it handles grow nearly 20 times since then, requiring several expansions.
Late last month, Central Valley Bean purchased Larimore (N.D.) Bean Co. in partnership with Co-op Elevator Co. in Pigeon, Mich. Now called Alliance Bean LLC, the Larimore plant and its receiving station in Sharon, N.D., will have capacity for about 240,000 cwt.
Central Valley Bean primarily handles navy and pinto beans and wasn't able to handle black beans as customers have asked, according to Fuglesten. Alliance Bean will handle black beans as well as pinto.
The Buxton cooperative is one of several bean plants across North Dakota and Minnesota that have diversified into black beans, said Tim Courneya, Northarvest Bean Growers Asso-ciation executive vice president.
"Farmers have been wanting to have options other than navies and pintos," he said.
Black bean acreage and production in North Dakota was third, behind pintos and navies in 2010, the latest year for which statistics were available from the National Agricultural Sta-tistics Service. In Minnesota, black bean acreage and production was second, behind navies.
Black beans are attractive alternative for farmers because they are resistant to white mold and grow upright, meaning they can be direct-harvested, Courneya said. Planting black beans, along with navies and pintos, helps farmers spread out their risk, he said.
Another thing farmers like about black beans, of course, is the price they fetch.
Black bean prices in North Dakota were $42 per cwt. on May 21, according to the U.S. Agri-culture Department.
In the past, North Dakota and Minnesota farmers who grew black beans typically had to wait awhile before they could sell them, Fuglesten said. "Twenty-seven years ago, when I started here, you maybe had to wait two years because there wasn't a market for them."
That's changed as exports have grown, primarily to Mexico, according to Courneya. Other markets include the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
U.S. usage has grown, too, as the country's Hispanic population has increased and as Americans have started eating black beans more.
"For the growth of our commodity, it is the shining star," Courneya said. "It's bringing a lot of good awareness to beans, in general. It's been a fantastic piece of evidence, where some-thing can start from zero and show huge growth."
Reach Bailey at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .