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Northern Pulse Growers to hold annual meeting

MINOT, N.D. -- Jerry Schillinger has been raising pulse crops for years, even when they were largely unknown to consumers and farmers. But pulses are increasingly attractive as both a healthy food and potentially profitable cash crop -- and that ...

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MINOT, N.D. - Jerry Schillinger has been raising pulse crops for years, even when they were largely unknown to consumers and farmers. But pulses are increasingly attractive as both a healthy food and potentially profitable cash crop - and that has farmers, especially in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, taking greater interest in them.

“Growers are looking for an opportunity to add some black to their bottom line. And if they think they can do that (with pulses), they’ll take a closer look,” says Schillinger, a Circle, Mont., farmer and president of the Northern Pulse Growers Association.

That’s expected to spur attendance at the group’s annual convention and trade show Jan. 23 to 24 at the Riverside Inn of Minot, N.D. About 185 people had registered by early in the week of Jan. 16, and another 115 to 150 people are expected to register by mail or phone or walk into the event, if the weather cooperates.

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“I think there will be pretty good attendance,” Schillinger says. “Of course it will depend on what the weather is like.”

Pulses (the name comes from an ancient Greek word for porridge) consist of 12 crops that include lentils, dry beans, dry peas and chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. The United Nations, citing pulses’ healthiness and affordability, designated 2016 as International Year of Pulses,

Topics at the Minot event include research, production and marketing opportunities.. Presenters include scientists and industry officials, including Tim McGreevy, CEO of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. McGreevy speaks at 9:20 a.m. Jan. 24, followed by Jesse Hunter, the council’s domestic marketing director, at 10 a.m.

Schillinger says he recently heard McGreevy talk about the pulse industry and the opportunities and challenges it presents.

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“It was a really exciting presentation,” Schillinger says. “It was interesting and encouraging.”

Pre-registration for producers is $75 (which includes $50 membership fee) and $125 for Industry (which includes $100 membership fee). Registration at the door will be $85 for producers and $125 for industry.

More information: call the NPGA office at 701-222-0128. To preregister or to see the agenda, visit northernpulse.com .

One sign of the growing interest in pulses: A record 432 registered attendees attended the 2016 Montana Pulses Day Nov. 29 in Great Falls, Mont.

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Spreading west

In the past, North Dakota has dominated U.S. production of many pulses. Now, North Dakota pulse acreage is growing, but Montana pulse acreage is rising even faster because many farmers in the state see it as potential alternative to wheat, which offers poor prices, Schillinger says.

For example, Montana farmers planted an estimated 540,000 acres of lentil this spring, four times the 130,000 acres in 2014. North Dakota producers planted an estimated 265,000 lentil acres this spring, more than the 75,000 acres in 2014.

The two states together accounted for 805,000 of the estimated 930,000 lentil acres planted nationally this spring.

Many people who attend the annual Minot pulse event also go to the popular KMOT Ag Expo in Minot, an annual farm show that this year will be held Jan. 25 to 27.

Having the two shows in the same week helps attract farmers, especially ones from Montana, to the pulse event, Schillinger says.

Agweek plans to attend both the pulse growers’ convention and the KMOT Ag Expo. Look for stories on the events on the magazine’s web site and in the Jan. 30 print edition

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
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