Dry pea and chickpea acres are expected to increase modestly in Idaho this year, while lentil acres could decline slightly. Overall, pulse crop acres in the state are expected to total 156,000, up from 151,000 acres in 2013 and 141,500 in 2012.
Pulse (lentils, dry peas, chickpeas) acres in Washington are expected to total 230,000, down from 234,000 in 2013, while Oregon pulse acres are expected to reach 15,000, up from 12,000 last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Other than dry pea and chickpea acres increasing slightly, there likely won’t be any major changes in Idaho this year when it comes to pulse acres, said Dirk Hammond, administrative services manager for George F. Brocke and Sons, a processor of peas, lentils and chickpeas in Kendrick, Idaho.
“Seed just started to go out the door and we have not had any significant planting intention changes,” Hammond said.
Good prices for dry edible peas, as well as phenomenal yields last year, are driving an expected increase in green pea acres. Green peas account for the vast majority of dry edible pea acres.
NASS estimates pea acres in the Pacific Northwest will increase by 16,000 this year. They are expected to total 40,000 in Idaho, up from 37,000 in 2013; 90,000 in Washington, up from 80,000 last year; and 11,000 in Oregon, up from 8,000.
“Pricing has been very strong and there was good forward contracting prices on peas going into the season,” said Tim McGreevy, executive director of the Idaho Pea and Lentil Council.
Timely moisture in northern Idaho led to phenomenal dry pea yields last year, Hammond said. Pea yields averaged 2,300 pounds an acre in Idaho last year, 40 percent above average, he said.
“Producers got a tremendous income per acre for peas last year and … that’s what’s driving the increased dry pea acres,” he said.
Chickpea and lentil prices have dropped off somewhat while pea prices have stayed firm and that has made it more economical and profitable for a lot of farmers to plant peas, said Kendrick farmer Robert Blair.
“More than likely, I’ll just put peas in this year,” he said. “They treated me really well last year. It was an unreal year last year for peas.”
Chickpea acres are expected to total 80,000 in Idaho this year, up from 78,000 last year. Large chickpea acres are expected to decline from 63,000 last year to 50,000 in 2014, while small chickpea acres are expected to increase from 15,000 to 30,000.
“(Small chickpeas) go to the hummus market and the United States is experiencing significant growth and demand in the hummus market,” Hammond said.
Idaho lentil acres are expected to total 30,000, down from 31,000 last year and 33,000 in 2012.
Lentil prices aren’t bad “but they are not as strong as peas or chickpeas,” McGreevy said. “Lentil acres will bounce back eventually (but) right now there is a pretty good supply of lentils.”