Big plans unveiled for pulse cropsGroup seeking investors for processing plant near Harrold.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
OACOMA — South Dakota Pulse Processors is trying to get the word out about pulse crops, and the word is that the crops could be big business for the state.
During an investors’ meeting Wednesday at Cedar Shore Resort, board member Brian Minish explained a plan to help grow the output of the crops in South Dakota.
Pulse crops currently grown in the state are green and yellow field peas, chickpeas and lentils.
The company hopes to open a $5 million, 5,500-square-foot plant to allow the cleaning, sifting, polishing, color sorting, splitting, milling and packaging of pulse crops near Harrold, a small town 30 miles east of Pierre, early next year.
The plant would be able to process 5 metric tons per hour. Pierre Economic Development Group would build the building and a rail structure to the building and then lease it to the company.
The company would employ approximately 10 people at first.
“Our goal is to be operational by harvest next summer,” Minish said. “It’s not a very large facility, but it fits the production for South Dakota to start out.”
The company needs to raise a minimum of $1.5 million by selling shares. A minimum investment of $15,000 is required to invest, and investors must be South Dakota residents. Another investment meeting will held at 7 p.m. today at the Jeff Moore Meeting Room in Winner.
“Currently, pulse producers have to have their crops processed in North Dakota,” Minish said. “If we were able to get that done in South Dakota with this plant, I think we would see a lot more farmers producing these crops.”
When plants were being built in North Dakota, production of pulse crops in those areas increased exponentially. South Dakota Pulse Processors hopes a similar pattern will occur when its facility is built.
Pulse crop production in South Dakota has dropped from 40,000 acres in 2004 to about 9,000 acres in 2011.
“We hear year after year from farmers that we have no production for it,” Minish said. “They have to haul it all the way to North Dakota, and that’s not cost effective.”
According to Minish, demand for pulse crops is starting to increase as the market for gluten-free flours increases. Also, pulse crops have a low glycemic index, making them ideal for the management of diabetes. The USDA recently approved the use of pulse crops in school lunch programs.
“About one-third of the world is using pulse crops as their staple food,” Minish said. “In our case, we will be selling globally as well as in the United States.”
South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Walt Bones was at the meeting Wednesday and called the business an “exciting project with a lot of potential.”
“These are food staples from across the world, much like our potatoes and rice are here,” Minish said.
In India, the largest producer and consumer of pulse crops, people consume about a cup a day, compared to 1.6 cups a year in the United States.
Like soybeans, pulse crops can play a vital role in crop rotation because of their ability to affix nitrogen to the soil. For this reason, Minish said pulse crops are ideal for central South Dakota.
“It actually affixes more nitrogen than what soybeans will do,” Minish said.
Pulse crops also have a shorter growing season, allowing them to be harvested in the middle of August and allowing farmers to get in their fields to plant wheat sooner.
South Dakota Pulse Processors board member Brian Minish talks to a group of prospective investors Wednesday afternoon at Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma.