Montana’s vast agricultural diversity is no secret, producing everything from beef to wheat and honey to peas. The state is covered by 27,500 farms situated on a whopping 59.7 million acres. Around 66 percent of the state’s total land area is dedicated to farming and agriculture. A big part of Montana’s agricultural success are the unique attributes of its different growing regions.
Southwest Montana is home to Beaverhead County, the largest cattle-producing county in the state and the location of some of the oldest cattle ranches in the western United States. In addition to cattle, alfalfa and potatoes are grown in this area. Hops are also an emerging crop here.
Southeast Montana’s livestock industry is vibrant, with the top three sheep- and lamb-producing counties in the state (Carter, Golden Valley and Stillwater). Sugar beets, wheat, barley and corn are grown in this area as well.
Northeast Montana is the hub of Montana’s pulse crops (peas, lentils and chickpeas), with Sheridan County leading the way. In addition to setting the tempo for Montana’s burgeoning pulse crop industry, durum wheat is an important crop grown in the area.
North-central Montana is home to the “Golden Triangle,” where some of the best wheat in the world is grown, with Chouteau County as the top-producing wheat county in the state. In addition to the world-class wheat grown in this area, the barley grown in north-central Montana is prized by maltsters all over the world, with Teton County leading the way.
Northwest Montana is home to Flathead Lake, giving the area a unique microclimate perfectly suited for the state’s cherry industry. As a result, local cherries are even known as “Flathead cherries.” In addition to cherries, this part of the state also grows potatoes and wheat.