A possible new oilseed crop for South Dakota and a proposed pulse plant in Harrold spell out a bright future for oilseeds and pulse crops in the state.
That’s the view of Rick Vallery of Pierre, for years the face of South Dakota Wheat Inc. Vallery left South Dakota Wheat Inc. in September to devote more time to representing the South Dakota Oilseeds Council and South Dakota Pulse Council. Vallery is executive director for both organizations.
Vallery had already been representing the oilseeds industry since 2005 and the pulse industry since 2007. Good things are happening in both of those segments of agriculture, Vallery said.
There’s a lot of optimism among growers of pulse crops such as lentils, chickpeas and green and yellow field peas thanks largely to a proposed processing plant that is currently seeking investor support from across South Dakota. The plant, which is proposed for a site at Harrold, would create a regional market for pulse crops while creating jobs in Hughes County.
“There’s lots of opportunity in that industry for additional growth and expanded acres,” Vallery said.
Pulse producers pay a check-off equivalent to 1 percent of net value when the sell their crop to promote the industry.
Meanwhile, South Dakota oilseed growers – though not abandoning old faithful crops such as sunflower, especially in the central part of the state – are getting their first look at an experimental oilseed crop called carinata, Vallery said. It’s one of a number of crops that scientists are considering as a possible feedstock for making jet fuel.
“We’re working with some people in South Dakota State University to develop an oilseeds crop for jet fuel. It might be something we are growing now in South Dakota, it might be something totally new to South Dakota,” Vallery said, adding that it might be possible to use the corn oil left in the dried distillers grains produced as a co-product from processing corn into ethanol, then mix that corn oil with a different oil such as sunflower, safflower or canola oil in the process of making jet fuel.
Vallery said the checkoff that farmers pay – 4 cents per hundredweight of oilseeds sold in South Dakota, whether flax, sunflower, safflower or canola – will help pay for continuing research into such new uses for oilseeds. But he added that the South Dakota Oilseeds Initiative, approved by the South Dakota Legislature in 2012, set aside $450,000 for oilseed work. Much of the matching funding needed to access that money is already rolling in from sources such as the Sun Grant Initiative.
Vallery added that the crucial factor is that the crops have to grow well and yield well in South Dakota. Another potential oilseed crop called camelina needs further research to adapt it to South Dakota; and oilseed producers remain interested in other possibilities such as a winter canola that will deal with South Dakota’s summer heat better than spring-planted varieties.