Local producers going organic

 

We all know there is a lot of farmland in Western Nebraska but what you might not know is that there are at least 16 certified organic farming operations in Kimball County and at least two more in Banner County according to the USDA Organic Integrity database and the Organic Provider Registry. At least two of those in Kimball County have been certified organic since the year 2000.

Although the exact number of organic acres in production in Kimball and Banner Counties is unavailable at this time, in 2011, Nebraska was ranked eighth in the nation with 129,858 certified organic acres.

Overall, Kimball and Banner Counties produce at least 14 different types of organic crops with proso millet being produced on fifteen of those eighteen farms.

Although proso millet is mainly grown for birdseed in the United States, it is also sold as a healthy grain in health food stores and used in speciality cereals because it is naturally gluten free. It has a texture similar to brown rice or quinoa and can be added to, or used instead of, rice in many recipes. One cup of proso millet has 18.02 grams of protein, just 2.89 grams of fat and is high in copper, magnesium, zinc and iron.

Proso millet is an annual grass that requires little water and is perfect for the area's dryland farming. Harvest of the estimated 7,000 year old grain takes place only 45-65 days after planting.

Hard red winter wheat is the next largest organic crop with nine producers growing it, along with three more producing hard white winter wheat.

Wheat in Nebraska is typically sold for human consumption with approximately half of it being exported, but some is sold as certified seed as well as livestock feed. Although non-organic producers can sell their wheat to local elevators, organic producers must sell their product outside of the county.

Other organically certified crops growing in Kimball and Banner Counties include a variety of grains such as spelt, buckwheat, oats, barley, kamut and milo. Hay and alfalfa are popular crops for livestock and pinto beans, peas and lentils are also grown in the area.

As an area organic producer, if you would like to participate in an in-depth article, please contact Aleta at Western Nebraska Observer at 308-235-3631.

 

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