Pulse crops like peas, dry beans, lentils and chick peas play a huge role in healthy diets in countries around the world. They’re also a powerful and versatile crop for Montana farmers who can use them to improve soil health and generate income from local and global markets.
“People are finding out that pulses aren’t just for soups you can use them in just about everything and the ingredient market is huge” says Jerry Schillinger, president of Northern Pulse Growers Association from Circle, MT.
The pulse crop acreage across Montana is exploding and for good reason. It’s consumer demand like this that has farmers like Circle’s Jerry Schillinger interested in growing pulse crops.
Schillinger says “Well, it’s gotten to be huge. We’re the number one pulse growing state in the nation. It’s really added especially in northeast Montana and now they’re starting to move into the triangle. I got to visit with an old’ friend who raised his very first chickpea crop this year and it was like mana from heaven really for him. He had a nice crop and good prices and it’s really taken the edge off the situation we’ve been in some of the other crops.”
During Montana Pulse Day in Great Falls, the event drew farmers who were new to raising pulses to those like Mike Waters from Froid, MT who has been raising them since 1996.
“The reason we got into pulses was to replace summer fallow and defray that cost. Since we got into raising pulses we started making money so we’ve stuck with them. It’s improved our wheat and durum production so they’ve been a beneficial rotation” says Waters.
Like other commodities, farmers are also finding it a lot easier these days to sell their pulse crops here in Montana.
Water says “I think when we first started it was important to have a contract to market them right away but that was because the buyers and processing plants were so far away. I think now with the increase in buyers and processing facilities in the state of Montana you can store them and sell them later.”
Like other farming and ranching practices, raising pulses is also good for Montana’s wildlife population.
“It’s an all-around holistic thing. It’s also a fantastic thing for the wildlife. It really makes farming a lot more exciting and fun” says Schillinger.
Over 80 percent of the pulse crops grown in the United States are grown by farmers in Montana and North Dakota.
As consumer demand for foods made from pulses continues to grow, we’ll continue to see more Montana farmers raise them because it’s not just a good agronomic decision, but it also just makes good old fashion dollars and sense.
Source: Russell Nemetz-MTN News/Northern Ag Network