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Guest Opinions

2016 is the International Year of Pulses

Written by Gary Stone

Pulses? We aren’t talking about your heartbeat, but rather a type of grain crop grown around the world. These grain crops provide a vital source of plant-derived nutrition in the form of protein, fiber, nutrients and minerals for millions of people. Pulse is derived from the Latin word “puls,” meaning thick soup.

Pulse crops are nitrogen-fixing legume plants that include dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas and others. Alfalfa and clovers are considered forage crops while soybeans and peanuts are not pulse crops because they are used for edible oil or in processed food.

Wyoming does produce some pulse crops, primarily dry beans (Phaseolus species), mostly Pinto and Great Northern bean market classes, and a few others. Most of these dry beans are grown in the southeastern part of Wyoming for sale as food. Other dry beans are grown for seed, mostly in the Big Horn Basin region around Powell. 

In all, on average, Wyoming produces approximately 71.3 million pounds of dry edible beans on approximately 32,000 acres. This amounts to $21.96 million in revenue for the producers. Wyoming ranks 10th in overall dry bean production in the United States. Most of the dry edible beans grown in the southeastern part of the state are processed in Scottsbluff, Neb. for sale across the country and around the world.

Wyoming has established the Wyoming Bean Commission to help conduct dry bean research, report the findings of the research, review dry bean legislation on the state and federal level, make grants for research and oversee other dry bean activities. The Wyoming Bean Commission is funded through assessments collected on dry bean sales and is housed within the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

For more information on dry beans, different market classes, how to prepare and cook dry beans, recipes and more, please visit the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission at nebraskadrybean.com, “Cooking with Dry Beans” at food.unl.edu/cooking-dry-beans, or “Cooking Dry Beans from Scratch Can Be Quick” at food.unl.edu/cooking-dry-beans-scratch-can-be-quick.

Beef, beans and biscuits – how the West was fed! Remember, happiness is a crock of beans!