Pulse crops are a growing industry in Nebraska, and producers gathered in Kearney to learn more.
"This is the Pulse Crops Expo. It's a day when producers, the processing industry, and the cover crop industry meet to discuss the future of pulse crops," Nebraska Extension Educator Strahinja Stepanovic said.
What are pulse crops? They can be everything from field peas, to chick peas to lentils. It turns out more pulses are being grown in Nebraska than ever before. "They are a cool season crop. You plant them in March and you harvest them in July," Stephanovic said. Pulse crops are in high demand in the pet food sector, along with exports overseas, and they are becoming popular for human consumption because of their health benefits.
Yellow peas are a common pulse crop that's being grown in Nebraska right now. The advantage of growing pulse crops for Nebraska farmers is they are a short season crop. "You can have peas planted in March, and harvest them in July. Then you have July all the way to August to grow short-season corn, soybeans, milo or millet," Stepanovic said. This means that a pulse crop could be used in an effort to generate more income on the farm because it would allow two crops to be grown in one year.
Pulse crops are often associated with western Nebraska, but they are moving east. "Why we are doing this meeting in Kearney is because we have seen the shift of growing acres into central and even eastern Nebraska. We have seen more seed dealers, more contractors and more processors," Stephanovic said. The hope is this trend will continue, along with research, that will help make this crop more important to the economy of the state.