Texas wheat producers exploring the lentil as potential winter crop

Tom Hinde

Lentils may become a winter crop for Texas wheat producers according to agronomist Dr. Emi Kimura with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Lentils are legumes that grow in pods on a bushy plant, and as a legume, they are high in nitrogen, which would be beneficial for the following wheat crop.

Currently, she said, the crop options for fall planting are limited to canola. "But it would be nice to have an additional crop rotation option to not only improve soil health, but to also improve wheat production," Kimura said. "Lentil is a grain legume that can improve overall fertility in the soil through nitrogen fixation as well as allow grassy weed control and break disease cycles." Lentils are also very tolerant to the extreme environmental conditions such as high temperatures and low moisture conditions, she said.

In the U.S., the lentil crop is generally planted in the Pacific Northwest in Washington and Idaho and is planted in the spring, she said. However, there have been considerable studies to improve the winter hardiness of lentils so they can be planted in the fall as winter lentils.