We’re excited to kick off Pulse Person of the Month! Each month, we will highlight a researcher, farmer or other industry member who will share insights into pulse growing, marketing, research and more. These monthly spotlights are a great way to connect with others in your pulse community and across state lines.
This month, we will be featuring Cole Riggers, a farmer that has been growing pulse crops for 13 years, starting in the spring of 2006. Riggers is a Craigmont, Idaho-based farmer that manages winter and spring wheat and canola, spring barley, small brown lentils and green peas.
Saving the Best for Harvest
As we head into this year’s harvest season, Riggers expects some delays but doesn’t anticipate them to have a major impact on his production. “The greener we are farther into July, the better the yields should be,” he explains. In particular, he mentioned that chickpeas often take a long time to ripen and usually require a desiccation treatment. Many chickpea crops, including those on his father’s farm, are expected to be harvested even later this year than last.
Farming with Social Media
And while you wait for your crops to reach perfection, what better way to stay sharp than by utilizing social media as a powerful tool for personal and business development. At the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, we believe using social media to build a community of pulse industry members is crucial to staying up-to-date on research, resources and industry news.
Riggers uses Facebook to reach his friends, landlords and anyone else that’s interested in getting an inside look at his farm. “I have a Facebook page dedicated completely to my farm, Cole Riggers Farms. I’ll post pictures and descriptions of crops, equipment, and re-post informational agriculture articles.”
Reaching people outside of the community is important, too. “I want the non-farm public to see what goes on with a real farm,” he says. “I find a value in being able to describe modern farming operations to followers, and hopefully they’ll share it with their friends and the great message of modern American agriculture can be spread that way. There’s plenty of negative and non-factual information about farming that’s out there and we have to combat that.” This is especially true as the industry faces increased attention amid ongoing tariff negotiations and growing interest in plant-based proteins.
Starting Smart with Pest Management
For first-time pulse growers, Riggers says to “do as much research as possible on these crops in the off-season. Learn about and plan your weed control strategies and soil-borne disease management.” Pulse crops require rotation and lots of management. By planting pulse crops back-to-back, you are allowing soil-borne diseases to corrupt the soil. “In [Craigmont], pulses are planted as rotational crops and winter wheat is then seeded on the harvested pulse acres in the fall. Pulses make for excellent wheat ground by fixing nitrogen in the soil while they’re growing. No matter what your rotation, the problems that can arise are still the same. Know what weed species you have on the ground, get with a certified crop advisor and come up with a weed control strategy.” Growing begins long before you sow your first seed, it’s important to stay informed and accurate every step of the way.
Pulse Industry Outlook
In this age-old industry, new innovations and new markets are continuing to open doors for consumer interest. Riggers thinks the industry is headed in the right direction, as “consumers are a lot more health-conscious these days, and pulse crops are hard to beat when it comes to being healthy and nutrient dense!”
When it comes to new innovations, Riggers is always looking out for new pulse crop varieties and research. “I’ve been watching for new varieties of winter peas for several years now, but have yet to grow any. Demand is the limiting factor for that right now. That being said, I may put in some Austrian winter peas for the first time on my farm this fall. I’m interested to see some newer chickpea varieties coming out that yield more as well.”
Dishing Out the Best Pulse Recipe
So, what will Riggers be cooking up with these new varieties and high yields? He says his favorite recipe is his mom’s lentil chili, especially during the winter. “We used to always use crimson lentils in it, but now use small brown lentils in it because that’s what we grow.” Have a favorite pulse recipe? Share it with us on social media!
Thank you, Cole, for being our first Pulse Person of the Month! If you would like to nominate next month’s Pulse Person, reach out to us on social media and tell us what you’d like to talk about. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and join our exclusive pulse industry group, also on Facebook! Encourage your neighbors to join the community by sharing this blog with them, we can’t wait to keep the conversation going.