Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pulse Crops

" pulse (Latin "puls",[1] from Ancient Greek πόλτος poltos "porridge"),[2] sometimes called a "grain legume",[3] is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food for humans and other animals. Included in the pulses are: dry beans like pinto beans, kidney beans and navy beans; dry peas; lentils; and others.

Pulses are important food crops due to their high protein and essential amino acid content. Like many leguminous crops, pulses play a key role in crop rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen.
Just like words such as "bean" and "lentil", the word "pulse" may refer to just the seed, or the entire plant."

We were never taught the term pulse crop in Ohio.  I think it must come from Canada or the plains, probably before that.  Pulse crops do very well in Ohio and soybeans has bean our number one crop more than once.  The first time I heard the term pulse crop was from Dr. Dwayne Beck from Dakota Lakes Research Center at the National NoTillage Conference many years ago.

Pulse crops are key to his research because in that part of the world they can grow about anything and have more crop diversification than we do in the Midwest.

"Archaeologists have discovered traces of pulse production around Ravi River (Punjab), the seat of the Indus Valley civilization, dating circa 3300 BC. Meanwhile, evidence of lentil cultivation has also been found in Egyptian pyramids and dry pea seeds have been discovered in a Swiss village that are believed to date back to the Stone Age. Archaeological evidence suggests that these peas must have been grown in the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia regions at least 5,000 years ago and in Britain as early as the 11th century."

LuAnn topped her salad off with Garbanzo beans or chick peas last night.  I don't like the taste of them or humus which is made from them but they are healthy foods.

I do like raising "pulse crops" though because they fit very well in the rotation in Ohio and across this country.

Pulse crops need to be inoculated properly because most of the soils they are grown in won't be healthy enough to provide the bacteria they need to produce nitrogen.  I don't think I find one field in 1000 with enough soil health that legumes won't make more  yield than if they are properly inoculated.

Do you raise pulse crops?  Do you consume them?

Ed Winkle


  1. We usually reserve a corner of the field for our former employee to raise Garbonzo beans. They are not well suited to our part of the contry but sometimes it works. Garbonzos are just chick peas with a fancy name. The hispanic folks eat garbonzo beans raw or boiled like boiled peanuts. They also make a paste that is not quite like humus and put it into tamalies. Whether they are good or not depends on who cooks them. I didn't find them to have much of a taste on their own. Like them raw out of the pod like raw peas. Would rather have peas.

  2. I like reading your blog to learn a bit more about US agriculture. Not a farmer personally but definitely interested in the field. Pulses are a big crop in India and we definitely enjoy them in a lot of our dishes (I am Indian). I was hoping you could elaborate on the "inoculation" that you mentioned. First time I heard about inoculating a field..


  3. Come on, Ed, hummus rhymes with delicious! I especially love the sesame paste in it. It's also a great basis for many variations. Spread it on toasted sliced baguette next to a green salad, makes the kids eat their greens without noticing! You don't even have to make it from scratch, it works well with canned garbanzos and ready-made tahini (sesame paste).

    Can't live without pulse. Just like they help regenerate the soil's nitrogen content, they also make the best source of protein in our diet, much healthier and easier to digest than meat protein. Personally can't live without meat or fish either, so I alternate the two, with probably more pulse than many people in my case.

    Here are a few star recipes with different pulses:

    - Chickpea: Couscous royale. The chickpea plays a small but essential part among the vegetables, semolina and all the meat: leg of lamb, whole chicken cut in large pieces and spicy merguez sausage. This recipe looks great but is missing the eggplant and harissa sauce:

    - Green lentils: Cured pork shank:
    Curing pork takes 3 days, just cover your pork shank with coarse salt, put in a plastic bag in a large bowl in the fridge for 3 days so the brine covers it and cures the meat. Soak and rinse twice before using. You can also add this amazing smoked Morteau sausage:

    - Tarbais/lingot bean (a melt-in-your-mouth white bean from the South West of France): Cassoulet. The best you can get in the U.S. has duck confit and costs $15 per person, shipping included:
    The best you can get in France has goose confit and costs $4.5 per person at the store, I just asked if they deliver in the U.S., since they seem to have passed the USDA/FDA certification, no answer yet. You might need to buy a whole box of 24, 12 or 6 tins though (15, 30, 56 oz), but that would still be at least 3 times cheaper for the best brand in France. English page:
    French page (with prices):,Nos%C2%A0cassoulets%C2%A0au%C2%A0confit%C2%A0d%27oie,1,2

    - Green split pea: Pea mash cooked and settled in pan, heat again in same pan covered, with sour cream and eggs on top to poach. Or with grilled Toulouse sausage:

  4. For the poster from India, welcome! Here is a link to my blogs on legume inoculation I will include in the main text as a hot link.