Agricultural Research Division of IANR


Date of this Version



Yield Gains in Major U.S. Field Crops. CSSA Special Publication 33. Stephen Smith, Brian Diers, James Specht, and Brett Carver, editors. doi:10.2135/cssaspecpub33.c5.


U.S. government work.


Edible grain legumes, including dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), dry pea (Pisum sativum L.), chickpea (Cicer arientinum L.), and lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus), have served as important sources of protein in the human diet for thousands of years. In the United States, these crops are consumed nationally and produced for export markets. The objectives of this study were to examine yield gains in edible grain legume crops over the past 25 yr. Genetic gain in dry bean during the past 30 yr based on common trials was 13.9 kg ha−1 yr−1 (0.77% yr−1) and 17.4 kg ha−1 yr−1 (0.85% yr−1) for navy and pinto bean cultivars, respectively. Data from national yield trials on research sites indicates that yield gains were 0.4, 0.7, 0.9, and 1.7% for pinto, navy, black, and kidney beans, respectively. The results also suggest that dry bean cultivars have not reached a yield plateau for most market classes. Continued introgression of germplasm from other races of common bean should provide new sources of genetic diversity to enhance yield in the future. Over the past 25 yr, the production of cool season food legumes (pea, lentil, and chickpea) in the United States has increased dramatically; however, yields of dry pea in the United States have decreased by 0.3% per year, lentil yields have increased by only 0.1% per year, and chickpea yields have increased by 2.8% per year. Pea and lentil production has increased dramatically in Montana and North Dakota, but the cultivars grown in this region were originally developed in the U.S. Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Canada and are likely not well adapted for Montana and North Dakota. Several currently grown cultivars are at least 20 yr old, but new cultivars have been released that are superior to these older cultivars.