An odd trend in wheat country: not much wheat

In this 2005 photo provided by the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, farmer Roy Kopf harvests chickpeas, east of Pullman, Wash. Changing consumer tastes for healthy high protein food are driving a boom in the demand for crops like chickpeas and lentils and some farmers, faced with the lowest wheat prices in nearly a century, have chosen to plant less wheat and more of these higher profit crops driving them to record production levels this year. (USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council via AP)


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Many wheat farmers facing low prices have turned this year to other crops, including chickpeas and lentils, in hopes of turning a profit.

This year’s wheat crop of 45.7 million acres is the smallest since 1919 and it comes after a 2016 crop that was the least profitable in 30 years.

North Dakota, Montana and Nebraska are among the states with significantly fewer wheat acres.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says acres planted in chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are up nearly 86 percent from last year. Lentils reached a U.S.-record 1.02 million acres (0.41 million hectares) planted this year.

Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus. Lentils are increasingly used in cereal and pasta as a way to boost protein and fiber.

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