Developing Best Management Practices for pulse and oilseed crops in the Northeast

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $105,527.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Maine Potato Board
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Jake Dyer
Maine Potato Board


  • Agronomic: canola, flax, peas (field, cowpeas), potatoes, soybeans, sunflower
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy, eggs, meat


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, crop rotation
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem and justification:

    A lack of best management practices for pulse and oilseed crop production specific to the Northeast discourages growers from including them into their crop rotations and taking advantage of the many agronomic and marketing benefits these crops have to offer. The most common crop rotation practiced in Maine consists of potatoes and small grains. Depressed and limited markets for small grains, primarily oats and barley, are putting increased pressure on the potato crop to generate the majority of farm revenue therefore decreasing the length of time between potato crops in the rotation. The inclusion of pulse and oilseed crops could aid in lengthening crop rotations, reduce crop inputs, break insect and disease cycles, and increase overall farm revenue both directly, due to their higher monetary value than small grains, and indirectly, by way of increased potato yields and quality by decreasing their frequency in the rotation.

    In addition to challenges with crop production, livestock producers in the Northeast are largely reliant on importing concentrated protein and energy sources, primarily soybean meal and corn, from other areas of the country. If improvements in crop production can be made, alternative sources of protein and energy (pulse and oilseed meal), could offset this reliance on imports and strengthen a more complete agricultural system.

    Solution and approach:

    Research projects conducted in Maine from 2013 through 2016 focusing on field peas, lentils, chickpeas, flax, and sunflowers has been structured using management practices (seeding dates, seeding rates, row spacing, and fertilization strategies) developed in the Northern Plains and the prairie provinces of Canada. While some of these crops and management practices are applicable and work well in the Northeast, some do not. Yields of field peas, flax, and sunflowers have been equal to or exceeded yields common in Western areas of the continent.  Chickpeas and lentils show potential but spatial management practices must be altered to compensate for the higher moisture and humidity levels in the Northeast. This project will use information, experience, and field observations derived from these past experiments in an attempt to fine tune best management practices for producing pulse and oilseed crops in the Northeast.

    This project will utilize both research and farm scale experiments along with educational workshops in an attempt to determine if manipulating the aforementioned management practices are an effective means of increasing the overall success of pulse and oilseed crops in the Northeast.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    20 Northeast potato growers will integrate pulse or oilseed crops into their rotations for the first time on a total of 600 acres, leading to an average increase of $450 in gross revenue per acre. Depending on crop selection and market conditions net revenue per acre could increase by $200.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.