Packin’ in the Pinto

Four loaded trucks lined up Friday morning at the Yellowstone Bean receiving station in Terry. Although the station opened September 4, consistent loads didn’t start coming in until the last half of the month, according to station manager Bill Ziebarth. 

By Kay Johnson

        Although Yellowstone Bean’s receiving station in Terry began accepting pinto beans September 4, it hasn’t been until the last half of the month that a steady stream of trucks started hauling in loads of the speckled beans, according to station manager Bill Ziebarth.

“Normally we’re two-thirds to three-quarters done by now,” Ziebarth estimated. “We’re probably half done right now.”
Friday’s line up of four trucks from area producers waiting to unload gave credence to Ziebarth’s estimation of the increasing flow of truck traffic seen in recent days coming into the Yellowstone Bean receiving station.
Shawn Conradsen of Savage has been growing the crop since 1998. He was one of the four waiting to unload his hopper trailer on Friday. Hauling in his fifth load since Tuesday, Conradsen said he felt good about this year’s crop.
“It’s an average year. It’s better than what we had last year,” Conradsen said. He estimated pinto beans make up about 20 percent of his crop production. “I’ve got another four loads left and I’ll be done.”
  Shawn Conradsen of Savage smiles after unloading his hopper trailer at Terry’s receiving station. 

Conradsen is one of about 35 pinto bean producers who haul loads into Terry’s receiving station. The area of those coming to Terry to unload pinto beans stretches as far northeast as Reserve, Mont., about 160 miles from Terry.  Of the 4,000 acres contracted with Yellowstone Bean Company to grow pinto beans, by far the vast majority lie between Terry and Glendive, according to Ziebarth, who also grows the crop in nearby Kinsey. 

 Bill Ziebarth, station manager at Terry's receiving station explains "the whitest and brightest" pinto beans
are preferred. 


Ziebarth, who is working his seventh harvest as Terry’s full-time station manager for Yellowstone Bean Company, noted several changes he has seen during that time, including an increase in contracted acres. In 2005 there were 2,800 contracted acres. The highest number of acres contracted to grow pinto beans in the area occurred in 2010 with 6,400 acres.
With a $10 increase from last year’s contracted price, pinto bean farmers contracted $34 per hundredweight for the 2012 crop. On average producers can expect 22 to 23 hundredweights per acre, with some achieving as high as a 30-hundredweight production per acre. That adds up to a $780 per acre crop on average, with the high reaching to $1000 per acre.
Noting those kinds of figures, Ziebarth pointed out Yellowstone Bean Company will be paying out over $3 million to area producers at the 2012 contracted price.
“Most of that money stays right here,” Ziebarth stressed.
A bonus payment is also offered where producers receive a supplement of the average open market price during the contracted year when it is more than the contracted price.

 Despite the dusty results of dumping pinto beans at Terry’s north-end receiving station, station manager Bill Ziebarth stresses the dust only contains dirt and is chemical-free.

As area producers continue to cut, combine and haul in their pinto bean crop, that has so far totaled about 106 loads received in Terry as of Friday morning, Ziebarth anticipates an end date of mid-October.     
“We haven’t had any rain to slow us down. That’s usually what slows us down.” Ziebarth said. Smiling he added, “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Published September 26, 2012

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