PEA YIELDS were slightly below average this year, according to latest trial results from National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

But it was something of a mixed blessing, with less lodging in lighter crops, making them easier to combine, said NIAB’s Simon Kightley.

Yields across all varieties averaged 4.58t/ha this season, compared to a rolling five year average of 5.17t/ha. Poor growth early in the season was the main reason for the lower yields, he said.

“Early growth was not good – conditions were cool and pretty dry, which meant a lot of crops were not as lush as they could have been, but it did mean better harvestability.”

The top performers were both white varieties – Bilbo and the candidate, Rocket, yielding 111% and 113% of the mean of all varieties respectively, he said.

Of the large blues, Venture yielded best at 108% of the mean. “It’s been around for a few years and it is a real surprise to see it doing so well this year,” he noted.

Historically, the market has preferred large blue varieties due to their good yields and standing ability, commented Mr Kightley.

“But if the apparent superiority of Rocket and Bilbo are confirmed on farm and growers are attracted to their good standing ability, this could change.

“Even white peas can get a premium now, as there is a shortage for some niche markets, such as dried peas, packet soups and splitting.”