Originally written by Ruth Beck, former SDSU Extension Agronomy Field Specialist.
Dry field peas and lentils are high in protein and fiber, have a low glycemic index, are easy to prepare, store well, and are low in cost. Even better they can be produced economically and sustainably in South Dakota as part of diverse no-till crop production systems.
These crops have occupied a fairly limited number of acres in South Dakota in the past. Field peas have been grown for use in the seed market, but they have also been successfully fed to livestock as well as being sold into other markets. Production in South Dakota has been competitive with other areas that grow these crops, both in seed quality and yields. However local processing options for these crops within South Dakota has been limited. This has played a role in the lack of acreage growth.
A group called The South Dakota Pulse Processors is currently planning to build a pulse processing plant in central South Dakota. This plant will clean and process field peas, lentils and possibly chickpeas in the future. A local processor would result in expanded acres of these crops.
As acres of these crops expand it will be important to ensure that local production information is available to help new producers be successful.
Goals of this grant are to:
- Develop updated production reference tools for new producers of these crops,
- Increase recognition that peas, lentils and chickpeas are produced in South Dakota,
- Increase in state consumption of these South Dakota produced commodities
- Increase public awareness of the environmental benefits of crop rotation and specifically those that include legumes.
Some outputs of this grant will be:
- A detailed field pea production guide as well as some short “how to” video clips to ensure that new producers in South Dakota have the tools to be successful.
- SDSU staff will host field days for new and experienced growers. This will give producers opportunities to become more educated in pea, lentil and chickpea production.
- South Dakota Pulse Growers will have a booth at South Dakota’s School Nutrition Conference. The booth will feature recipes and samples of food prepared with peas, lentils and chickpeas. This booth will give school food service staff more tools to help them prepare peas, lentils and chickpeas in an appealing, nutritious manner.
- The last goal is to raise the recognition across South Dakota that field peas, lentils and chickpeas are grown in South Dakota and can provide citizens with a low cost, healthy food source with extended shelf life.
This project is supported by the specialty Crop Block Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture through grant 12-25-B-1487, The South Dakota Pulse Growers, Inc. and SDSU Extension.