Thursday, March 6, 2014

Faba!

Yep, I'm going to attempt to grow some faba beans.

Don't know much about them?  Neither do I...but I am about to learn.  And hopefully it's a good learning experience.  I decide to try faba beans primarily because they fix more nitrogen in the soil than other pulses such as peas or lentils.  In fact, they could fix up to 20% more.  That's why I'm pursuing this.  If I can break even on faba bean production, the payoff could come through reducing fertilizer input costs for my other crops.

I've started by talking with a neighboring farmer 20 miles away who raised them last year.  As far as I can tell, he's the first and only farmer on the Hi-Line to raise them.  He shared quite a bit of information with me and I'm thankful for his support and guidance.

I'm going to start off small...just 50 acres.  I'm doing that for a couple of reasons.  First, there's not much known about how suitable they are for the climate and soil conditions on the Hi-Line.  Secondly, because there is no production history in Montana, I can't obtain insurance on the crop through commercial sources or through the FSA NAP (Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program).  Lastly, I am not sure how faba beans will fit into the FSA's ARC program, so I have to plant them on non-base acres.

I am purchasing the beans through United Pulse in North Dakota.  Their supplier is in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and will deliver them to my farm.  I also signed a pre-production contract with United Pulse for approximately 1/3 of my expected yield.  I can sell the remaining yield through other buyers as long as I give United Pulse the opportunity to match the price.

So, I'm excited!  I'll keep you updated on the faba beans as the year progresses and as I learn my lessons.

Faba!

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