Pulse farmers ponder weeds, research
Pulse growers will this week consider past weed issues and future research advances along with recipes to boost demand.
The Western Pea and Lentil Growers Association annual meeting begins with a chairman’s breakfast at 7 a.m. Dec. 4 at the University Inn Best Western, located at 1516 Pullman Road in Moscow, Idaho.
The association represents dry pea, lentil and chickpea farmers from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
The agenda includes pulse variety updates, crop insurance speakers, domestic and international marketing, farm bill updates and advances in pulse research.
Todd Scholz, director of information and research for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, said weeds were a big issue during the past production year. Some fields were weed-free and others were “unfortunately very weedy,” affecting harvest time and duration. Weeds can impact 20 to 40 percent of yields, and reduce quality grades, Scholz said.
“This year the big impact was moisture,” he said. “We had rain late in the season, and that helped the weeds and hurt the crop.”
Chicago chef Matt Luaders of Culinary Sales Support, Inc., will offer a cooking demonstration.
The industry is working with the military to incorporate pulses into food options as part of the “Go Green” meal initiative and Luaders will offer recipes for a lentil burrito and a protein shake.
Scholz said the industry also hopes to incorporate pulses into school lunches. Part of those efforts include teaching people how to use pulses in recipes and get them excited about it, he said.
“The average consumption of pulses in the U.S. is about 16 ounces a year,” he said. “If I could just get two pounds, we would double consumption and we’d have to plant more acres. That’s what we want, demand.”
Scholz expects the United Nations to approve an International Year of Pulses for 2016 at some point this month. The international effort is led in the U.S. by the American Pulse Association.
Scholz said efforts to map the pea genome by an international consortium of researchers will increase breeding and crop improvement. There are also efforts to map the lentil genome, he said.
For more information, call the council office at 208-882-3023.