New plant could help pulse crops in South Dakota


$6.5M Harrold facility set to open doors in November

Aberdeen,SD-- The planned opening of a pulse processing plant near Harrold has the CEO and others expecting an expansion in pulse crop production in South Dakota.“I think the acres will probably expand rapidly,” said Steve Brown of South Dakota Pulse Processors.Pulse crops include various types of peas and beans, such as chickpeas and lentils.The plant is a 12,000-square-foot facility that is nearly finished.

Though announced in 2012, Brown said initial construction plans stalled, but got back on track in 2014. Construction of the plant started about a year ago, he said. He said he anticipatesequipment testing in October with the $6.5 million plant in operation in November.In addition to new crops grown in 2017, Brown said, he anticipates available product this year.

“There’s quite a bit of product out there in grain bins we hope to buy in the coming months,” he said.

The plant will process both whole and split peas and lentils. Processing will be Monday through Thursday each week, Brown said, giving employees a three-day weekend.Tom Young, president of South Dakota Pulse Processors, said the processing plant is important for growers in central South Dakota.

“For years, producers have been raising peas,” he said. “We don’t have a local market. Any time you can process and ship a final product, we’re keeping more dollars in South Dakota.”

Brown said the nearest processing plants for peas and lentils are in North Dakota and Minnesota.Young said peas are a product filled with protein. They are also hypoallergenic, non-genetically modified and gluten-free.Key part of rotationDan Forgey, agronomy manager for Cronin Farms near Gettysburg, said pulse crops like peas and lentils have been in the operation’s rotation for 12 years.

“One reason I like pulses is there’s kind of a moisture break where it rains east of Gettysburg (but not as much to the west),” he said.

There isn’t always that final rain in August for good soybean growth, Forgey said, and peas have a shorter growing season and are ready for harvest by early August.Forgey said the cost to grow peas is comparable to soybeans. The seed costs are a little higher, he said, but chemical treatments are less. In a good year, Forgey said, yield will be about 60 bushels per acre. A tougher year like this year, and it’s closer to 40 bushels per acre.But this year’s harvest netted a better yield than expected. Forgey said 100-plus-degree temperatures hit when peas were flowering, and cooler temperatures are better.

“I didn’t think we’d have anything, but they were OK,” he said. “They’re pretty resilient.”Peas also provide a benefit to the next crop.“Sometimes the best crop you’ve got is the crop you grow after (peas),” Forgey said.

“It makes the ground mellow. There’s no way we could take pulses out of our rotation.”Much potentialKevin Haas, owner of Legume Matrix, a pulse processing plant in Jamestown, N.D., said there’s a lot of potential in the pulse markets.

Prices are currently down, he said. Chickpeas are 25 to 36 cents per pound or $15 to $21.60 per bushel. Green peas are $5.50 to $6 per bushel and yellow peas are $5 to $5.50 per bushel. Red and green lentils are 18 to 24 cents per pound or $10.80 to $14.40 per bushel.Ruth Beck, South Dakota State University Extension agronomy field specialist, said peas fix their own nitrogen. That means they draw nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil.

Beck said that means farmers don’t have to apply fertilizer with nitrogen.Beck and Forgey also noted an advantage to the earlier harvest because it provides an earlier window for planting winter wheat.Gettysburg seed producer Lee Vojta said pea growers are pretty scattered in South Dakota, but he saw some increased interest earlier this year. However, some farmers are holding back because they’re not sure where to market them.

In that respect, Vojta sees the new processing plant in Harrold as a positive.Vojta said peas are a good fit for arid climates in South Dakota. They can be planted by the end of March, he said, and are frost-tolerant.Interest, demandHe said in spring he saw quite a bit of interest in producers looking to grow peas, but he ran into difficulty providing seed to everyone who was asking about it. He said the limited supply is due to growing interest in North Dakota and Montana.Beck said one of the seed suppliers also lost a crop this year.

The crop suffered storm damage, then got bacteria blight, she said.She said there’s healthy demand for peas worldwide.“In the last couple years, we’ve seen a little bit of a rise (in production in South Dakota),” she said. “I think that could continue as long as prices continue for that crop.”Beck said the new pulse processing plant will allow for expanded acres.

“We’ve had growers who’ve been growing (peas) since the early 1990s,” she said. “They have their markets. For people who don’t want to go as far from home with their commodity, having someone local to sell to and they can trust will make a difference. We will see a few more acres in central South Dakota. It will be another option and tool for people to look at those acres."

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