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Stateline Producers Cooperative in Gering Orders Two Pea Splitters for 2014 harvest.

May 15, 2014

2 Min Read

Dry edible field peas are a high-protein legume being planted in western Nebraska dryland and irrigated cropping systems as an alternative crop, says John Thomas, UNL Extension educator in Box Butte County. A relatively new crop in the Panhandle, these field peas are being marketed primarily for human consumption but also can be used for pet food and livestock feed.

A 25- to 30-bushel- per acre pea crop can be produced with 9 to 10 inches of water, Thomas says, which is important in western regions that face low rainfall and increasing restrictions on irrigation.

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Field peas previously had been grown in western Nebraska on a small scale and processed out of state for cover crops and livestock feed. But growers now contract with Stateline Producers Cooperative in Gering, which has segregated handling and storage facilities, allowing for field peas to be grown regionally for a larger overseas market for human consumption, according to Thomas.

In 2013 about 25,000 acres of yellow edible field peas were harvested in western Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Kansas. Dryland yields in the northern Panhandle averaged 35 to 40 bushels per acre while yields in the southern Panhandle and southwest Nebraska averaged 15 to 25 bushels per acre due to drier conditions.

The irrigated pea crop had yields ranging from 30 to 65 bushels per acre, according to Courtney Schuler of Stateline Producers Co-op.

Growers were generally encouraged with the crop and ready to try it again in 2014. Seventy to 80% of the peas will go overseas in export markets and as food aid. The remaining crop will be sold domestically as a source of protein in food and supplement markets and in the pet food market. Some peas are used in livestock feed rations as well.

Schuler says Stateline has ordered two pea splitters that they expect to be operational for the 2014 harvest. Splitting will add value to the crop for the growers and provide more marketing opportunities for the end product.

It's estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 acres in the five-state region were planted to dry edible field peas this spring. Planting started in late March and by the third week of April 85% of the crop had been planted and 10-15% had emerged.

Most of the peas will be in the ground by May 1. Snows and rains this spring in much of western Nebraska have resulted in good soil moisture conditions.

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