14 March 1996

Freedom from tannin means better nutrition

PEAS are tannin-free and are a good option for producers seeking to grow their own protein.

So says Cathy Knott, principal technical officer at the Processors and Growers Research Organisation near Peterborough.

"White-flowered peas are tannin-free, and so are nutritionally better than beans as an animal feed. They are also less susceptible to drought than spring beans, and not particularly difficult to grow."

But inputs may be higher and harvesting can be tricky in a wet year, she cautions. "In a wet year, peas may need to be protected from botrytis. They will also need a pre-emergence herbicide, but there are plenty of post-emergence options, too."

Ms Knott says new varieties have better standing power and will be easier to combine.

"Eiffel and Grafila both have good standing ability, while Baccara has the highest yield. Other varieties such as Chorale, Carrera and Focus are also suitable. Any of the white flowered varieties would suit producers wishing to grow and feed peas." &#42

Peas can be reasonably easy to grow, but in a wet harvest, combining might be difficult.

Peas – agronomy

&#8226 Treat with fungicidal seed treatment to avoid seed-bed losses. Seed-bed must be free-draining and well prepared, with no compaction

&#8226 Drill using conventional drill, with seed covered by at least 3cm settled soil after rolling. Sow as early in March as possible.

&#8226 Aim for good plant population, depending on variety. Thin crops are more difficult to harvest, later maturing and more prone to bird damage.

&#8226 Pre-emergence herbicide gives best control of broad-leaved weeds. Volunteer oilseed rape and wild oats can cause serious harvesting difficulties if not controlled. Peas should not be sown on couch-infested land.

&#8226 An aphicide should be applied as soon as aphids can be found on 20% of plants. Other pests which may need controlling are pea weevil, field thrip and pea moth.

&#8226 Fungicides may be needed, particularly if it is a wet summer when botrytis is likely to be a concern. Minimising compaction and choosing disease resistant varieties will help reduce incidence of some diseases.

&#8226 Harvest as soon as peas are ready – the pods shell easily if over-ripe. A desiccant may be needed if the crop is unevenly ripe or weedy. Combines will need efficient lifters, particularly in wet weather.

&#8226 Post-harvest the crop should be dried to about 14% for long term storage.