Appropriately, I am writing this editorial only a few hours after unwrapping the Christmas presents I got from my best friend. The package included a card game, a few desk trinkets (to which I have an unhealthy addiction) and a big jar of soup mix.
It was a glorious sight – a filled-to-the-brim mason jar packed tightly with amaranth seeds, dried herbs and spices, and Canadian red and black lentils and split peas. Sure, soup might seem like a humble or unconventional Christmas gift for an old friend, but anyone who knows me knows that there are two easy ways to my heart: desk trinkets, and soup.
This issue has previously focused solely on lentils – the small-but-mighty, protein-packed pulses that are popular with vegetarians, meat eaters, vegans and soup lovers alike. This year, we’ve expanded just a little more broadly to all pulses, which allows us to keep a narrow enough focus to truly dive deep, while not forgetting about those valuable field peas and faba beans.
As a go-to magazine for agronomic research, it’s part of our duty to ensure that those pulse crops remain valuable. This means examining whether faba bean seeding rates should vary by different seed sizes (page 4), promoting research that quantifies and contextualizes the physical and economic damage inflicted by the highly specialized pathogen Aphanomyces euteiches (page 12) and other key topics.
Pulses are an important crop, both nutritionally and economically. The global pulses market reached an estimated USD $87.6 billion in 2021, according to Imarc Group. Imarc also expects the market to grow to USD $114.7 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 4.15 per cent over the next five years.
But despite the opportunities that lie ahead, there are challenges for pulse growers. Meeting global demand hasn’t always been easy. This year, for example, seeded area of faba beans dropped sharply due to planting delays in Saskatchwean. According to StatsCan, seeded area was down 72,000 acres from 2021, or 46 per cent, being the lowest since 2013. And, with Canadian peas making up between 25 and 30 per cent of the global pea market, pea acres have now dropped for three years in a row.
However, when looking at the big picture, Canadian pulse production overall has rebounded since the 2021 drought year. StatsCan estimates from October 2022 point to production of all pulses increasing by up to 60 per cent or more, with reasonably good quality.
It is important to remember that our pulses are not just going into our warm lunchtime soups, but they are also feeding the world. With pulses being an important part of our agricultural landscape, why not ensure the best seeding, growing and harvesting practices?