Farm

 

Northern Crops Institute
NDSU Dept. 7400
PO Box 6050
Fargo, North Dakota, USA 58108-6050
Phone: 701-231-7736
Fax: 701-231-7235
Email: nci@ndsu.edu
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Major Crops of the U.S. Northern Plains

The four state region comprised of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana is located in the northern Great Plains of the United States. This region produces an abundance of agricultural commodities. The following table lists the primary uses of these commodities along with some recently developed uses.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaranth
Barley
Buckwheat
Canola
Corn
Crambe
Dry Edible beans
Field Peas

Flax
Lentils
Millet
Mustard
Oats
Potatoes
Rye
Safflower
Sorghum
Soybeans
Sugar beets
Sunflowers
Triticale
Wheat, Durum
Wheat, Hard Red Spring

Crop

Links to Crop Videos
 

Primary Uses of Crop:

Barley

Barley

BARLEY is mainly utilized in the United States for animal food (60.7%), followed by malt production (27.3%) and seed (6%). The remaining 6% is used for human food or exported. Specialty varieties include high lysine, high-sugar, high fiber, and varieties low in pigment-like compounds called proanthocyanidins. Main varieties raised in the northern Plains include:

Six-Rowed Malting BARLEY -- Primarily grown for use as malted barley for the beer industry, it is also processed into pot or pearled barley for soups and dressings, flour for baby foods and specialty foods, malted barley for other brewing and distilling products, malted milk concentrates, malt flour for wheat flour supplements, and specialty malts for coloring or flavoring of food products.

Two-Rowed Malting BARLEY -- Same as above

Feed BARLEY -- Animal Feed

Waxy Hulless BARLEY -- Health food market and animal feed. Waxy hulless barley contains a nutritious balance of fiber and phytochemicals which behave primarily as antioxidants. Waxy hulless barley can be flaked or ground; the flakes have been utilized in hot cereals and granola bars and the flour is a flexible ingredient for breads, cakes and cookies. The soluble fiber behaves as a fat replacer while the waxy starch has a natural anti-staling property and freeze-thaw stability. Cracked waxy hulless barley can be utilized in low-fat meats to improve texture and moisture.

 
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Canola

Spring & Winter Varieties

Canola

CANOLA, one of the newest commodities grown in the four-state region, is mainly raised for edible oil production. Canola was developed in Canada from rapeseed; a crop raised as a source of industrial oil. Very little rapeseed oil was used for human consumption due to high levels of anti-nutritional factors called erucic acid and gluconsinates. Canola oil, which contains much lower levels of these compounds, is also known as low-erucic acid rapeseed oil. It was approved for food use in the United States in 1985. Because it is perceived as a "healthy" oil, its use is rising steadily both as a cooking oil and in processed foods. The consumption of canola oil is expected to surpass corn and cottonseed oils, becoming second only to soybean oil. It is low in saturates, high in monounsaturates, and contains a high level of oleic acid. Many people prefer the light color and mild taste of canola oil over olive oil, the other readily available oil high in monounsaturates. Canola is one of the easiest plants to genetically engineer and designer canolas are expected to be the wave of the future. In 1996 laurate canola was planted in Minnesota and North Dakota for the first time. This variety serves as an alternative domestic source for tropical oils and petroleum products. The oil can be used in soaps and detergents and other niche markets. Canola meal is used for livestock feed.
 
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Corn

Yellow
Corn

Dent CORN, also known as Field corn, is the main variety grown in the northern Plains. It is utilized either as a grain or chopped into silage. Approximately one-half of the corn produced is used on the farm for livestock feed. It is also used to manufacture corn starch, ethanol fuel, sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, and corn oil products. Corn-based ink is now available and a super absorbent cornstarch is being utilized in baby diapers and automobile fuel filters. Other recent developments for corn usage include biodegradable plastics and packing materials, specialty chemicals for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, a non-corrosive road substitute (calcium magnesium acetate), adhesives and paper products. These products are expected to increase in demand in the future.

Physical Characteristics of Corn and Animal Growth (2013)

 
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Dry Edible Beans

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans


Dark Red Kidney Beans

Dark Red Kidney Beans

Light Red Kidney Beans

Light Red Kidney Beans

Cranberry Beans

Cranberry Beans

Great Northern Benas

Great Northern Beans

 

EDIBLE BEANS serve as a nutritious food staple. Soluble dietary fiber averages 20% which is higher than oat bran levels. Along with the cereal grains, beans provide the highest levels of protein available in the Plant Kingdom. Many varieties are available for food products in dry, pre-cooked, canned and frozen forms. Varieties of edible beans raised in the northern Plains include:


NAVY BEANS -- A versatile white bean commonly used in canned products such as pork and beans and in dry bagged form. Navys are a favorite in soups and baked bean dishes.


PINTO BEANS -- A medium sized beige and brown dappled bean. Excellent for baking. Pintos are popular in chili, as refried beans and refried bean paste and in most Mexican foods.


DARK RED KIDNEY BEANS -- A large, dark red bean often cooked and canned as whole beans and used in canned chili products. These colorful beans add a splash of color to baked dishes and bean salads.

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SMALL RED BEANS -- A smaller version of the Dark Red Kidney bean, these beans are interchangeable with kidney beans in any colored bean recipe.


LIGHT RED KIDNEY BEANS -- A large, light red bean often cooked or canned as whole beans for soups or salads. The color adds to baked dishes or bean salads.


BLACK TURTLE BEANS -- A small black bean usually available where Spanish and Oriental foods are sold. It is a staple in Black Turtle Bean Soup and Brazilian Bean Soup.

 

 


CRANBERRY BEANS -- The Cranberry bean has deep red slashes on a buff seed coat. It is a large-sized bean used in soups and salads.


PINK BEANS -- Beans of the Pink class are grown to supplement the supply of edible beans used in products such as canned chili and can be used as substitutes in recipes calling for Pinto beans. Pink beans are often served barbecue-style or cooked with spicy seasonings.

 


GREAT NORTHERN BEANS -- Similar in color but slightly larger in size than Navy beans, this variety is also good for baking. Great Northerns go well in baked bean recipes and casseroles and their delicate flavor makes them a good choice for salads.

 
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Flax

Brown Flax

Brown

Golden Flax

Golden

FLAX is primarily utilized for non-food purposes in the United States, although recently, health benefits of consuming flax have been documented. Interest in flax for human consumption is increasing because of potential health benefits from its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and also its fiber content. Ground or whole seed flax imparts a nutty flavor to baked products. Other food uses include breakfast cereals, breakfast drinks, and salad dressings. Flax seed must be ground to obtain health benefits from the omega-3 fatty acids, since the human body cannot digest the seed coat.

Linseed oil extracted from flax is used in paints, coatings and linoleum, and as an industrial lubricating oil. The flax meal is primarily used as livestock feed.

 
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Oats

Oats

OATS continue to be an important crop in the north central states where 65% of the oats harvested for grain each year are produced. Most oats grown in the U.S. are used for animal feed and never leave the farm or immediate area. Oats used for human consumption are primarily utilized as rolled oats and whole oat flour. The premier use of oats is in hot breakfast cereals, but other specialty applications include cold cereals, bakery products, granola bars, and baby foods. Oats are highly nutritious with the highest protein quantity and quality of the cereal grains, the oil from oats has a highly desirable fatty acid composition, and the fiber (beta-glucan) is beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels. Oat bran contains about twice as much fiber as rolled oats making it an attractive ingredient for health-related products or utilized as cereal. Despite the fact that oats are very nutritious, their use in human food has not kept pace with other grains. Factors contributing to this include processing difficulties associated with the thick, outer hull and the need to thermally process oat products, low profits for farmers and the lack of identifying popular uses for oat products. Unique qualities of oats include taste and texture, excellent moisture-retention properties, stabilization of fat components related to the antioxidant properties of oats, and thickener and stabilizer of dispersions. The only significant industrial use of oats is in cosmetic products.
 
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Potatoes

 

Potato

POTATOES are the fourth most important food crop. They are used fresh or processed into a wide array of products. These products include French fries, hashed brown potatoes and other frozen products, potato chips, shoestring potatoes, flakes, granules, diced, prepeeled and canned products, potato pancake mixes, flour, starch, animal feed, and chemicals. One medium fresh potato provides approximately 150 calories and 50% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, along with Vitamin B6 and fiber. Three main types of potatoes are raised in the region while specialty crops include the new colored varieties and organically raised potatoes. The main use of each type is listed below although each type can be used in various ways.

Red -- A round potato with a distinct red skin. Internal texture is moist with a creamy smoothness. Flavor described as a buttery-rich potato flavor. Used primarily for boiling and baking.

White-- Round to oblong in shape, with a thin, hardy skin that varies in color from buff to light brown. Mainly used for the production of potato chips. Subtle flavor and creamy texture.

Russets-- An oblong-shaped potato with a delicate brown skin netted in appearance. Generally large in size to produce the long french fries desired by consumers. Also used for baking. Flavor described as warm and nutty.

 
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Rye

Rye

Primarily Winter Varieties

RYE is used for human consumption, as grain for livestock feed, and as a green plant for livestock pasture. Rye flour is used for bread making, as a filler in soups, sauces and sausage, and for flavor in certain pancake and waffle mixes. Other specialty foods such as hot breakfast cereals are also produced from rye. It is also utilized for alcohol production: for beverages (mainly whiskey) and for industrial alcohol.

 
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Sorghum

Sorghum

Milo

In the United States SORGHUM, also known as MILO, is primarily grown as a feed grain for local use or for export. Worldwide, sorghum is an important food crop often eaten as meal or in flat breads. It is also used for malted beverages and specialty foods such as popped grain and beer. Syrups with strong flavor and dark color are made from sweet sorghum. It can also be utilized for building material, fencing, and for brooms. Recent developments in sorghum hybrids have significantly improved properties for use in food, industrial and feed applications. These hybrids produce grain with a light color and bland flavor that can be used in a wide variety of food products. Meals and grits can be extruded into a variety of snack and breakfast foods with a unique bland flavor. Waxy hybrid sorghums have unique properties for processing. They can be micronized to produce flakes with excellent properties for granolas, granola bars and other ready to eat breakfast cereals. They expand greatly during extrusion and decrease the run off time during brewing.
 
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Soybeans

Soybeans

Oilseed Type

 

SOYBEANS are primarily grown for oil production and as a protein source for livestock feed, however, the versatility of this commodity is unequalled. Soybean oil is primarily used for shortening, margarine and salad oils, but is also utilized in many other products including mayonnaise, salad dressings and sauces, frozen foods, baking mixes and soups. Soybean oil dominates the U.S. market (over 70%) because of its wide availability and lowest cost in relation to other vegetable oils. This is a remarkably successful example of a value-added commodity because soybean oil was once considered an inedible oil derived as a by-product of protein production. The lecithin from the oil is used in baked goods, candies, chocolate, cocoa, and for pharmaceutical purposes. Soybean cake and meal are the major high protein supplements used in mixed feed ration for livestock. Other protein products manufactured from soybeans include texturized proteins which resemble meat, edible films, infant formulas, tofu, and soymilk. Nonfood (technical) uses of soybeans include anti-corrosion agents, disinfectants, dust control agents, epoxies and paints, printing inks, adhesives, particle board, plastics and polyesters, etc. New soybean varieties tailored to meet the demands of specific industries are expected to account for a greater share of the market in the future.

Overview of Soybean and Soybean Meal Quality 2013

 
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Sugar Beets

Sugarbeet

SUGAR BEETS grown in the region are processed locally into sugar and byproducts. Sugar is primarily used as a sweetener and is available in several crystal sizes and forms (grades) to suit end-product use. Other functions of sugar in food processing applications include bulking agent, preservative, texturizer, humectant, fermentation substrate, and browning and decorative agents. The main by-products of sugar production are molasses and beet pulp. Beet molasses is too bitter for kitchen use but is valuable in the manufacture of yeast, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Beet pulp is dried and formed into pellets for use as a highly nutritious livestock feed.
 
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Sunflowers

Sunflower Seeds

Approximately 75% of the SUNFLOWERS raised in the United States are grown in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. There are two major types of sunflowers: oilseed and non-oil, which is commonly referred to as confectionery. Typically 75-85% of the annual sunflower crop consists of oil-type varieties.

Oilseed-- The small, black seeds of this sunflower contain approximately 38 percent to 50 percent oil and about 20 percent protein. The oil is mainly used in the U.S. for frying. The oilseed hybrids may be of three fatty acid types: linoleic, mid-oleic (NuSun) or high oleic A unique feature of sun oil from crops grown in northern regions is the high level of oleic acid, an essential fatty acid. Refined sun oil also contains the highest alpha-tocopherol content of all vegetable oils. Some black-seeded oil types go into the hulling market for kernel production and for birdseed. The sunflower meal, a by-product of oil extraction, is used primarily for animal feed.

Confectionery-- The confectionery sunflower varieties are usually black with white stripes, and are larger in size than the oil-type varieties. Seed of confectionery sunflowers has a lower oil percentage and test weight than oil-type sunflower seeds. The seeds are available in a number of ways: in shell or dehulled, raw, salted and/or roasted. Sunflower seeds are eaten as a snack or incorporated into baked goods, salads, candies, and main dishes. The smaller seeds are used as bird food. Sunflower seeds are high in iron containing twice as much as raisins and 3-4 times as much as peanuts.

 
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Wheat

 

 

HRS Wheat

Hard Red Spring Wheat

 

Durum Wheat

Durum Wheat

Although humans rely upon a variety of grains for sustenance, one grain dominates all the others. It is WHEAT -- a grain with unique proteins that form gluten. Without gluten, the production of leavened bread would not be possible. In the United States, there are six main classes of wheat. Wheat classes are determined by the time of year they are planted and harvested, the shape and hardness of the kernel, and the color of the bran. The quality characteristics vary between the wheat classes and determine the end-product usage. Generally, high protein contents with strong gluten properties are desirable for hard wheats, whereas low protein contents with mellow gluten characteristics are desirable traits for soft wheats. The classes of most importance in the northern Plains are Hard Red Spring Wheat, Durum Wheat, and Hard Red Winter Wheat.

HARD RED SPRING WHEAT -- This wheat contains the highest protein content of all the wheat classes averaging between 13.5-14.5%. It has superior milling and baking properties and is used to produce bread products requiring strong gluten including hearth breads and rolls, variety breads, bagels, English muffins, and thin pizza crusts. It is often blended with lower protein flours to improve their bread making qualities. The four-state region of North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and South Dakota grows approximately 90% of the Hard Red Spring Wheat in the U.S.

DURUM WHEAT -- Most of the durum wheat grown in the U.S. is produced in the northern Plains with 70-80% grown in North Dakota alone. Durum wheat is milled into a granular product called semolina, which is used primarily for pasta products in the U.S. Other uses of semolina include couscous and bread products. Pasta products made from durum are superior because of the desirable golden color and nutty flavor, and because they hold their shape and firm texture when cooked. A by-product of semolina production is durum flour, which is used in breads and pre-cooked pasta products.

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HARD RED WINTER WHEAT -- This is the largest class of wheat produced each year in the U.S. Most of the wheat of this class is grown south of the Northern plains region, although Montana and South Dakota raise significant quantities. This is the primary wheat class used to produce white sliced pan bread and a variety of other yeast-leavened baked goods. There is a wide range in protein content with an average of approximately 11.5-12.0%.

HARD WHITE WHEAT -- The newest class of wheat to be grown in the United States. Closely related to red wheats (except for color genes), this wheat has a milder, sweeter flavored bran, equal fiber and similar milling and baking properties. It is mainly used in yeast breads, hard rolls, bulgur, tortillas and oriental noodles.

SOFT WHITE WHEAT -- Soft White wheats are primarily grown in Pacific Northwest. It is also grown in areas scattered throughout the state of Montana. Soft wheat flour is used in cakes, crackers, cookies, pastries, quick breads, muffins and snack foods. The bulk of this wheat class is exported for use in flat breads, noodles, and sponge cakes.

SOFT RED WINTER WHEAT -- This class of wheat is not grown in significant quantities in the northern Plains. The level and quality of protein is similar to that of soft white wheats, and is suitable for cakes, cookies, flat breads, pastries and crackers.

 
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Other Specialty
Crops

 

Amaranth

Amaranth

Buckwheat

Buckwheat

Millet

Millet

 

Field Peas

Field Peas

Lentils

Lentils

Yellow Mustard

Yellow Mustard

Safflower

Safflower

Triticale

Triticale

A variety of other crops are grown in the four-state region in smaller quantities. Termed "specialty crops", these commodities are raised to meet the needs of niche markets. They are often grown under contract for a specific end-use.

 

AMARANTH -- There has been a renewed interest in recent years in the use of amaranth for human consumption. Amaranth can be used as a grain or as a vegetable. The grain is high in protein (approximately16%), with nearly twice the lysine content of wheat. It is used for breakfast cereals, as gruel, or as a cooking ingredient. It is often milled into flour for baking, or blended with other flours to increase the protein quality. The leaves of some amaranth species are cooked for use as a vegetable.



BUCKWHEAT -- Botanically, buckwheat is not a cereal but a dry fruit with similar uses to cereal. Most buckwheat used in the United States is milled into flour, which is blended with the flour of other grains to make pancakes. Ethnic dishes made with buckwheat include soba noodles and kasha. Other applications include breakfast cereals, biscuits and breads, poultry dressing, source of honey, source of medicines, and animal feeds. Buckwheat grain is highly nutritious being a rich source of protein, minerals and fat. It also contains bioflavonoids (vitamin P and rutin among them), which are known to aid in reducing capillary fragility and sparing vitamin C.



MILLET -- The kernels of this cereal grain are small, round to oval in shape, and vary in color from cream to orange to brown. The most common types of millet grown in the northern Plains are proso millet and foxtail millet. Proso, also called grain millet or hog millet, is the only millet grown in the U.S. as a grain crop. It is primarily used for livestock feed or birdseed purposes. It is sometimes incorporated into baked products such as breads. White and red-colored varieties are grown in the region. Foxtail is grown primarily for hay for livestock. Pearl and Japanese millets are occasionally grown in the region as a forage crop for livestock.

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CRAMBE -- Crambe is an oil seed crop grown primarily as a source of industrial oil. The oil is high in erucic acid (50-60%) and is a complement to petroleum products used by U.S. industries. Crambe oil is a excellent lubricant with good stability to high temperatures and pressures, yet remains fluid at lower temperatures. Hydrogenated crambe oil shows potential in the manufacture of specialty waxes. Derivatives of erucic acid are used for various chemical applications such as processing aids, surfactants, plasticizers, anti-foaming agents, antistatics, fixatives in perfumes, and corrosion inhibitors. The crambe meal can be used as a protein supplement for beef cattle.

FIELD PEAS -- Field pea is a pulse (legume) crop. Also known as dry pea, it is marketed as a dry, shelled product for either human or animal use. Protein isolates and fiber products derived from field peas show potential for various food applications including meat emulsions, beverages, and bakery products. They exhibit excellent whipping ability and foam stability compared to soybean controls. Peas are also used in some processed foods such as soups, and farmers also produce them for livestock feed, both for forage and seed.

LENTILS -- Lentils are also a pulse (legume) crop which are high in protein (22-35%). They are good supplements in animal feeds because of their high protein/carbohydrate content. Although very few consumers in the U.S. are aware of lentils, they are utilized worldwide for human consumption as a cooked vegetable in soups, stews and salads. Approximately 70% of the U.S. production is exported.

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MUSTARD -- (Brown, Oriental, Yellow) Yellow mustard is the predominant type of mustard raised in the U.S. It is most commonly used for table ("hotdog") mustard. It is also used in mayonnaise and pickles and functions as a bonding agent in processed meat products. Brown and Oriental mustards are used for oil and spices, and in the manufacture of "hot" table mustard which is often served in Chinese restaurants.


SAFFLOWER -- Safflower is grown for its premium quality oil. The safflower produced in the northern Great Plains is very low in saturated fatty acids compared to other vegetable oils. Other favorable qualities include a high iodine value, light yellow color and pleasant taste. Two types of safflower cultivars exist; those that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic) and those that are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic). Oil from the high linoleic types is used primarily for edible oil products such as salad oils and soft margarines, and as a non-yellowing industrial oil in paints and varnishes. Oil from the high oleic varieties can be used as a blending oil or as a substitute for olive oil, a heat stable cooking oil to fry foods such as french fries and potato chips, or as a diesel fuel substitute. It is also used in infant food formulations, cosmetics and in sprayed food coating. The meal, which is about 24% protein and high in fiber, is used as a protein supplement for livestock and poultry.

TRITICALE -- This man-made cereal was developed by crossing wheat and rye. Most triticale is still used for livestock feed although there is considerable interest in its use for human consumption. Triticale is high in protein with an amino acid composition preferable to wheat. It is milled into flour for bakery products such as bread, cookies, tortillas, cakes and other soft wheat type products since triticale performs similar to a soft wheat. Products made with triticale possess a distinctive flavor.

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