Pulse crops offer some great benefits to the farmers that pursue them. Today we will talk about the market opportunities pulse crops offer especially during current uncertain times in regards to the Covid Pandemic. We also discuss the benefits offered by the nitrogen fixing bacteria to the soil associated with these crops. 

Dr. Anton Bekkerman joins us from Montana State University to explain the effects of Covid on the pulse crop markets. With the possibility of shelter in place on the horizon, consumers bought a lot of storable goods including canned beans. He anticipates that the pandemic will likely increase the desire and need for these products and may result in long term consumer habits regarding pulse crop consumption.

“What makes peas, lentils, chickpeas, and other beans, particularly special is that they represent an alternative storable relatively cheap source of protein.” – Dr. Anton Bekkerman

From a global perspective, Dr. Bekkerman explains that any new trade deals have likely been put on hold. He expects the global pulse crop market is likely to be “in the status quo for the next year.” Pulse crops do not have a futures market so predicting prices can be difficult. Dr. Bekkerman recommends looking at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to see spot prices for pulse crops which although not guaranteed can indicate a potential value. He also highly recommends Canada Ag Statistics to get an idea of what markets are predicted to look like in Canada for pulse crops which often correlates with markets in the US.

“If I were to make a bet right now, I would say lentils are probably going to be the crop to market in September and October.” – Dr Anton Bekkerman

Beyond a niche market for consumers, pulse crops also greatly benefit the soil. Dr. Audrey Kalil,a plant pathologist at the North Dakota State University Williston Research Extension Center, joins us to explain how best to encourage the nitrogen fixing benefits the bacteria associated with pulse crops can offer. She recommends a granular inoculant that will best promote the rhizobia bacteria. Unfortunately this is also the most expensive form of inoculant. There are also peat and liquid applications available to improve the bacteria’s nitrogen fixing ability that are less expensive and can still improve the rhizobial activity. A big benefit she highlights of pulse crops is that they not only add “nitrogen to your system” but they are also building your soil. Unfortunately, this does not always translate directly into yield growth. The benefits may be “hidden.”

“I would be careful when folks say they’re not seeing the yield benefit to inoculation because that might not be the best way to understand whether you’re achieving what you want to achieve.” – Dr. Audrey Kalil

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *