Yellow peas continues to be a popular alternative crop in western Nebraska, and more farmers are now growing yellow peas in the eastern part of the state, too.
"Yellow peas are a cool season legume crop," Extension Educator Strahinja Stepanovic said. "Many people think they are a garden plant, but they are grown for seed, and it's a staple crop in northern states like Montana and North Dakota, and even Canada," Stepanovic said.
The reason yellow pea acres have expanded in the last five years from many 10,000 to 70,000 acres primarily in western Nebraska is because the crop is good to rotate to help with soil health. Stepanovic said there is also a growing profitability for farmers when it comes to producing yellow peas. "Yellow peas are a pulse crop like lentils or chick peas, and worldwide there is an increase in market demand," Stepanovic said. "They are used for human food, but they can also be used as pet food, and for protein supplements. The diversity of the market of the product is up and that drives the prices up, which encourages farmers to grow it," Stepanovic said.
Stepanovic says studies continue to be done at the International Wheat Center on the potential of yellow peas as an alternative crop for farmers across the state. He also says work is going to be done on whether chick peas could also be a crop for farmers in Nebraska.