Clemson Webinar Promotes ‘Going Organic’ When Selecting Pulses | Local News

The Clemson Organic Plant Breeding Institute is continuing its “Going Organic” webinar series to teach farmers how to grow nutritious legumes and save money.

A new series of presentations by world-renowned researchers, experts in their fields, will begin on September 21 at 10 a.m., with Shiv Kumar Agrawal of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

Agrawal’s presentation is on “Pulse Breeding for Organic Agriculture: Progress and Prospects”. Additional speakers are scheduled to speak monthly through April 2023. This series is part of a grant project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

Registration is requested. To register and receive a link to the first seminar, go to

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The speakers and the title of their presentations for the Clemson Going Organic 2022-2023 webinar series are listed below. All sessions start at 10 a.m.

September 21 – Shiv Kumar Agrawal, Lentil Breeder, ICARDA, “Raising Pulses for Organic Agriculture: Progress and Prospects.”

Oct. 26 – George Vandemark, Research Geneticist, USDA, “Breeding and Management of Chickpeas.”

November 16 – Matthew Blair, Molecular Geneticist/Plant Breeder Tennessee State University, “Breeding and Management of Beans/Mung Beans.”

December 7 – Diego Rubiales, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, CSIC, in Córdoba, Spain, “Legume farming and management”.

January 18, 2023 – Jeff Schoenau, University of Saskatchewan College of Agriculture and Bioresources, “Legume Crop Fertility Management and Organic Soil Health Guidance.”

February 22, 2023 – Susan Whiting, University of Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, “‘Perceived’ Benefits and Risks of Pulse Consumption: Examples from the North and the South.”

March 29, 2023 – Hannah van Zanten, Department of Global Development, Cornell University, “Perceived” Benefits and Risks of Pulse Consumption: Examples from the North and the South.”

April 19, 2023 – Jeff Rumney, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, “Pulse Marketing and Opportunities.”

Benefits of Going Organic in South Carolina

Organic farming sometimes has the bad reputation of producing legumes of lower nutritional quality. But researchers at the Clemson Organic Plant Breeding Institute said field peas and lentils can be grown organically and still have improved nutritional quality. The organic pulse breeding program is led by Dil Thavarajah and his team, including retired soybean breeder – Emerson Shipe, Shiv Kumar Agrawal and project manager Tristan Lawrence.

Their goal is to develop cultivars suitable for the southern climate, particularly the organic production systems of South Carolina and North Carolina.

Thavarajah, the project’s principal investigator and Clemson Professor of Organic Pulse Quality and Nutritional Selection, said the research is needed as consumer demand for organically grown plant protein increases. The team is in the final stages of developing organic dry pea cultivars suitable for South Carolina.

“These cultivars are not only suitable for the low-input organic system, but also rich in protein, prebiotic carbohydrates and micronutrients,” Thavarajah said.

These cultivars were developed based on on-farm selections from WP Rawl and Sons in Pelion and the Calhoun Fields Laboratory and Cherry Farm at Clemson Organic Research Center.

“Organic plant proteins are popular because they are a clean source of protein with no added chemicals,” Thavarajah said. “But organic pulses have a lower protein content and are more expensive. During this study, we want to determine how to develop protein biofortified organic legume cultivars that will lead to economically rewarding sustainable organic farms, especially in the Carolinas.

Field peas and lentils are legumes. Thavarajah and his team tested three new legume cultivars – lentils, dry peas and chickpeas – for organic production in South Carolina. The new dry pea cultivars will be commercialized within two years.

Pulses are called “the meat of the poor” because they are rich in nutrients, like protein, but they don’t cost as much as meat. Among the objectives of this project are the development of protein-enriched organic pea and lentil varieties and the provision of on-farm educational activities as part of the cooperative extension service.