Can you tell the difference between a garbanzo bean and a chickpea? Neither can I. The bean is referred to as both so pick your favorite. Phil Hinrichs joins us from Hinrichs Trading Company to share his experiences with growing chickpeas and watching the industry grow. Initially chickpeas were mainly grown for export but in the last ten years have developed a domestic market that has really been taking off. With products like hummus and consumer desire for gluten free, chickpeas answer a lot of demands that consumers are looking for.
“We went in ….and introduced our product and showed that we had the ability to have a consistent product available to the market. And the domestic market started waking up.” - Phil Hinrichs
While the market appears endless with crackers, breads, and even milk and yogurt products up for grabs, there are challenges to growing the crop. Firstly, there is a short planting window. Chickpeas prefer slightly warmer growing temperatures. Chickpeas also take a while to germinate which can leave them vulnerable to pests and further temperature stressors. The bloom stage can last up to 45-50 days creating better yields as opposed to green peas that only bloom for 10-15 days. Of course that time of blooming is in July which can lead to heat stress or summer rains that can affect the end product.
“This crop does not like humidity. It's not for everybody….that’s what keeps it from expanding across the United States.” - Phil Hinrichs
Growers of specialty crops, like chickpeas, also have to be more flexible with getting paid for their product. Chickpeas move with the market which will likely require some storage and a bit of waiting to see what the need is. This does result in a premium price being paid but requires some forethought. While the market has been damaged by covid and trading tariffs, Phil is optimistic about the future of chickpeas for both growers and global markets.
“So the part that makes it interesting to our grower is number one, it's a rotational crop for his agronomy on his farm. So he’s going to build soil. He’s also gonna break disease cycles so that's his focus.” - Phil Hinrichs
This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:
Meet Phil Hinrichs, a longtime chickpea farmer
Learn the many benefits of incorporating chickpeas into a crop rotation
Discover the difficulty in marketing a specialty crop and the factors that are encouraging the chickpea market
Explore the effects of 2020 on the chickpea market and where it might go from here