Why Nebraskans are Celebrating — 2016 International Year of Pulses
Lynn Reuter, Executive Director, Nebraska Dry Bean Commission
The United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. Pulses were chosen, according to the UN, to “heighten public awareness of their nutritional benefits as part of a sustainable food production aimed toward food security and nutrition.”
What are pulses and why are they important?
Pulses are a type of legume harvested solely for their dry seeds. The most commonly known and consumed types of pulses are dried beans, dried peas, chickpeas and lentils.
Pulses are important because:
- They are nutrient dense, high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol- and gluten-free.
- Their nitrogen-fixing properties help improve soil fertility.
- They have a broad genetic diversity from which climate-resilient varieties can be selected.
- They are highly water-efficient and their production has low greenhouse gas emission.
- They can be stored for months without losing their nutritional value.
Dry Edible Beans Make a Significant Contribution to Nebaska's Economy
Nebraska dry bean growers produced 3.117 million hundredweights of dry edible beans in 2015, accounting for 11% of the total dry bean production in the United States. (Other top producers included North Dakota, 8.901 million cwt; Michigan, 5.533 million cwt; Minnesota, 3.896 million cwt; and Idaho, 2.141 million cwt.)
In 2015 Nebraska was the nation's leading producer of Great Northern beans, ranked second in production of pinto beans and light red kidney beans, and fourth in production of all classes of dry beans. Nebraska produces approximately 1 billion servings of dry edible beans each year.
Dry bean production in Nebraska is primarily on irrigated farmland in the Panhandle and southwestern counties, where the climate is arid and the warm days and cool nights provide excellent growing conditions for dry edible beans.
For more information, visit nebraskadrybean.com or follow the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission on Facebook and Pinterest.