Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

WESTI Ag attendees look at alternative crops


February 16, 2018

WORLAND – Agriculture producers in the area learned about alternative crops that could be grown in the area, utilizing much of the same equipment that farmers and ranchers currently own.

During a workshop Thursday morning at WESTI (Wyoming Extension’s Strategically and Technologically Informative) Ag Days in the Worland Community Center Complex ag producers also discussed alternative livestock.

University of Wyoming Extension Educator Caitlin Youngquist of Washakie County explained to attendees that the Big Horn Basin has several advantages and disadvantages which make choosing the correct crop for the area essential. “We do have a few competitive advantages here, one is that we have good water and seem to have ample water at this point, unlike a lot of other farming areas in the country right now. We have a long growing season and we have relatively low humidity which can be an advantage when it comes to disease pressures. Then we have relative isolation which can particularly be valuable when we are looking at seed crops,” Youngquist said. “We do have alkaline soils that can be a challenge when we are looking at alternative crops and other things that we can grow here. We tend to have a lot of salinity in our soil and our water, so another challenge is to look at crops that can handle those conditions. Then we have hot summers and cold winters, think about crops that can fit those conditions,” she added.

Alternative crops listed were: winter wheat and spelt, proso millet, chick peas, lentils, maple peas, oats (gluten free and standard), dry beans, flax, quinoa, funugreek and sunn hemp. Youngquist explained the difference in price paid for conventional growing and organic growing. For example: the price paid for lentils conventionally grown is $0.22 per pound and organically grown is $0.80 per pound.

Smaller livestock were also touched upon. Lambs and goats were discussed to meet the needs of people during ethnic holiday seasons not only here but to be shipped to areas like Billings and Denver. Pastured poultry and rabbits were briefly discussed with the price of processed rabbits being $10 per pound and poultry $3 to $4 per pound.

Quality horse hay, Youngquist stated, is something that is in huge demand across the country. She explained that conventional hay is bringing $130 - $205 per ton and certified organic hay is bringing $250 - $300 per ton, with small bales being the key.


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