While pulse crops have been grown in Montana for some time, production increased dramatically in the last decade to nearly 537,000 acres in 2012.
In 2011, Montana took the lead in U.S. pulse crop acreage. Montana retained its leadership position in 2012.
Much of Montana’s pulse production occurs in Northeastern Montana, where farmers grow pulse crops on land previously left fallow (idle) for a season. The replacement of 360,000 acres of fallow with pulse crops was worth over $100 million to the region’s economy in 2010.
Farmers are increasing their pulse crop acreages elsewhere in the state too. Pulse acreage in the Golden Triangle region of Montana (Great Falls – Havre – Cut Bank) increased from 27,000 acres in 2009 to nearly 122,000 acres in 2012.
Potential exists for substantial growth of the pulse industry in Montana in the coming years. If additional acres of pulse crops were grown on 25% of Montana’s fallow cropland (approximately 900,000 acres) the annual benefit to Montana's economy could exceed $240 million. Much of this growth is likely to occur outside of northeastern Montana.
A paper authored by the Montana Department of Agriculture discusses the current and potential future impacts of pulse production in Montana. (See links below for download options.)