Will prices for pulses go the way wheat, corn and soybeans have gone?

That is just one of the pulse webinars the Dry Pea and Lentil Council is hosting for producers and others interested.

Registration is still open at https://www.usapulses.org, and more pulse education webinars are set.

Called the PulsED crop grower education project, the series is hosted with help from USDA Risk Management Agency funding.

The market webinar helps producers learn about current and emerging markets, both international and domestic, and how to navigate the promising ingredient market.

According to the council, goals for the pulse crop industry include increasing demand for pulses and delivering the highest quality pulses.

In addition, the U.S. needs to continue its work on getting pulses into school lunch programs, into snacks and beverages and into the health and convenience markets. The need to interest Millennials in the ways to use pulses continues to be important.

The U.S. pulse industry currently has the strictest grading standards in the world, with cutting edge research behind it. Pulse growers in the U.S. grow the highest quality peas, lentils and chickpeas of any country in the world, and these pulses are in demand.

The International Year of the Pulses created demand for U.S. pulses, both domestically and around the world, and succeeded in raising interest in pulses.

These were successful in increasing demand and sales of pulses.

“To increase demand for pulses, we had a media campaign focused on a 'half cup habit,' where we encouraged millennials and others to eat just a half cup of pulses a day,” said Todd Scholz, vice president for research and marketing at the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council. Millennials were educated about the nutrition, health and sustainability of pulses, and many enjoyed learning about recipes that included pulses.

Another campaign was a branding campaign. Every product that has a pulse in it should be branded with the name “Pulse,” and consumers will recognize that product as having healthy, nutritious, high protein ingredient in it. It will be a lot like the “Whole Grain” logo that is seen on products.

“For example, we are making noodles from red lentils. That ‘Pulse’ brand can go on that,” Scholz said. Ripple is a milk with pea protein in it, that can also be labeled with the “Pulse” brand.

Research is needed to obtain the science behind the pulse ingredients: what are the best management practices for pulses to secure a product that is consistent time after time when used in certain products.

“We are introducing pulses into snack products, but need to know how to grow the right varieties and what are the right cooking processes to achieve a certain product,” he said. “We need to know how to grow a consistent product.”

Some 10 years ago, there was a focus on creating different pulse products for the domestic market and they came up with some 200 products that could use various pulses. Last year, in 2016, they created some 1,200 products that used pulses.

The US Dry Pea and Lentil Council has grants to fund six world trade representatives working in nine regions of the world representing U.S. pulses. They promote pulses in their area, and provide technical support and training on using U.S. pulses.

India is the number one export market for U.S. pulses, with 70 percent of pulses exported to that country. The country is willing to pay a good price for high quality U.S. pulses, and likes yellow peas. They grow their own pulses, but not enough to feed the demands of their population.

Other facts about U.S. pulses and marketing:

- Pea prices have been generally steady despite production rising.

- Lentils have seen decent prices although production is up.

In 2017, prices continue to be strong for pulses.

- Mexico is not able to produce all the pulses it needs for its people, and imports from Canada and the U.S. The country likes the green lentil the most, thinking that they are 'fresh,' and as such, Mexican people do not like brown-colored lentils.

- South Africa buys pulses from the U.S. in a dry packaged product, which is then put into a canned product.

- China has a rising middle class that wants higher-quality protein, including pulses.

- Demand is rising for chickpeas, with Turkey wanting to buy all the chickpeas it can get. In fact, exports to Turkey grew some 278 percent in 2016. On the other hand, chickpeas are in demand in the U.S. for the hummus market.

-The International Year of the Pulses introduced pulses to the Millennial, and many of them are eating and buying pulses.

Southeast Asia does not consider pulses a staple, and needs education and awareness of the uses of pulses and their properties.

- The U.S. is marketing more pulses for the fractional market, for pet foods and as flour.

- Contracts are limited for some pulses, but large chickpeas can easily be sold on the open market. The U.S. dollar valuation can make a difference with exports.

- Disease pressure and insects like the damaging pest, the pea weevil, can be a big problem. That is where rotations with other crops make a difference.

The US Dry Pea and Lentil Council is continuing to ask pulse growers to continue to increase their volume of pulses on their farms, and continue to increase their quality standards.

Idaho farmers talk about growing pulses

A farmer panel talked about growing pulses on their own farms during the PulsED webinar.

The three farmers, Howard Jones, Brian Silflow, and Dave Harlow, were from different locations in Idaho.

Howard has seen soil differences in fields where he has grown pulses. He says using no-till has changed his three-year crop rotation.

“We can seed a spring crop into light stubble without cultivation,” Howard said.

Howard has bins on the farm, and usually puts his pulses in the bins and waits for good prices.

Dave has a three-year rotation and grows chickpeas. He says the rotations help with breaking up disease.

He sells his chickpeas totally on the open market.

“We feel that way we can haggle a little on prices,” he said

Brian farms in a high-moisture area. He grows green peas, lentils and chickpeas not for “hot” market but to grow them for benefits for long term. He looks for contracts before growing, to log in some decent prices.

He tends to market his niche crops like red lentils and Austrian winter peas first. He grows his green peas and lentils for the cash markets.

“We watch Canada to see if they have good growing conditions,” he said.

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