A survey of the 2021 dry bean production year in Minnesota and North Dakota reports an increase in cover crop usage across the Northarvest area compared to the previous year.

“The ‘2021 Dry Bean Grower Survey of Production, Pest Problems and Pesticide Use’ provides important data on dry bean production, pest problems and pesticide use in Minnesota and North Dakota,” says Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University Extension entomologist.

Survey respondents provided information for more than 122,000 dry bean production acres in 2021, which represents about 14% of the 900,000 dry bean acres planted in the Northarvest area.

NDSU Extension conducted the survey in cooperation with the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Production and Agronomy

“Drought was the big story in 2021,” says Patrick Beauzay, NDSU Extension research specialist. “Drought affected 47% of reported acres in Minnesota and 85% of North Dakota’s reported acres. Growers in Minnesota reported an average yield loss of 35% due to drought, while North Dakota growers reported an average yield loss of 49%.”

Wind damage, weeds and spring frost were the next most reported production problems.

The most popular dry bean market classes grown in the Northarvest area in 2021 were pinto, black, navy and kidney beans. North Dakota produced the majority of pinto beans, while Minnesota produced the majority of kidney beans. Black bean and navy bean production was about equal in both states, says Beauzay.

The top three pinto varieties were Torreon, La Paz and Monterrey. The top three kidney varieties were Montcalm, Dynasty and Pink Panther. For black beans, the top three varieties were Eclipse, Black Tails and Zorro, and the top three navy varieties were HMS Medalist, T-9905 and Blizzard.

Corn, wheat, dry beans, soybeans and sugarbeets were the most common crops in rotation during the past five years, with 97% of growers producing dry beans at least once in three of the past five years.

Most dry beans were grown using conventional tillage (64.2%). Use of less-aggressive tillage strategies, including minimum tillage (19.7%), strip-tillage (11.8%) and no-till (11.8%), increased in 2021 compared to 2020.

Ground rolling continues to be an important practice, especially for pinto, black and navy bean production, with about 64% of all growers practicing ground rolling. Pre-emergence was the most popular timing for ground rolling (51% of growers). Almost 77% of growers that used ground rolling also practiced direct harvest. For growers using direct harvest, 44% reported yield losses between 1% and 5%, and 41 % reported losses between 6% and 10%. For growers using indirect harvest methods (knifing, windrowing, Pickett harvester), 70% reported yield losses between 1% and 5%, while 26% reported losses between 6% and 10%.

Cover crop use increased by 11% across the Northarvest area in 2021 compared with 2020. Minnesota growers used cover crops on 56% of their reported acres, while North Dakota growers used cover crops on 27.3% of their reported acres. The top three reported reasons for cover crop use were to reduce soil erosion, conserve soil moisture and as a weed control practice.

Most growers (79.7%) used a soil test prior to fertilizer application. The most common fertilizer application methods were broadcast (82.7%), in-furrow (46.5%) and banded (17.1%), with many growers using more than one method. Site-specific nutrient management was practiced by 32.9% of growers, and 22.6% of growers used Rhizobium inoculant.


Drought contributed to insect problems in 2021. Only 22.4% of reported acres across the Northarvest area had no insect problems, compared to 41% in 2020. The top three insect problems were grasshoppers (51% of reported acres), leafhoppers (38.2%) and spider mites (22.8%).

“However, reported foliar insecticide use indicates that, for the most part, insects did not reach economically threatening levels as 75.8% of reported acres did not receive any foliar insecticide,” says Knodel. “Extension-recommended economic thresholds were observed by 96.2% of dry bean growers.”

Minnesota reported more disease problems than North Dakota, with only 15% of reported acreage in Minnesota having no disease problems compared to 40.4% for North Dakota.

“This is likely due to greater drought severity in North Dakota, and more dry bean acres under irrigation in Minnesota (40.2%) compared to North Dakota (3.6%),” says Beauzay.

In Minnesota, the top three disease problems were white mold (69.3% of reported acres), common bacterial blight (55.4%) and root rot (35%). In North Dakota, the top three diseases were white mold (33.7% of reported acres), common bacterial blight (28.7%) and root rot (19.6%).

Foliar fungicide use reflects the differences in disease incidence and severity between Minnesota and North Dakota, with 16% of Minnesota dry bean acres receiving no foliar fungicides, compared to 74.7% of North Dakota acres.

The three most reported weeds in North Dakota were kochia (65.3% of reported acres), lambsquarters (39.3%) and ragweed (31.7%). In Minnesota, the three most common weeds were lambsquarters (73.4%), ragweed (54.3%) and waterhemp (43.1%).

Herbicides are the most important weed control strategy, and most growers used a combination of PRE (85% of reported acres) and POST (96%) products to manage weeds. Non-herbicide options practiced by growers included cultivation (12.2% of reported acres), cover crops (9.6%), rotary hoe (0.7%) and manual labor (0.3%).

For more information on dry bean production, visit the NDSU Ag Hub dry bean production webpage.