Heres a pea perfectionist

2 February 2001

Heres a pea perfectionist

Booming demand for protein

crops looks set to give peas

and beans a much-needed

fillip for human consumption

and animal feed uses alike this

season. Here Louise Impey

talks to two growers who

know more than most about

growing the crops

MARROWFAT peas have been grown by AS Allen & Son at Whinmere Farm, Hickling, near Norwich since 1967.

So the winning sample of Maro in the British Edible Pulses Associations 2000 pea competition was backed by plenty of experience.

Grower Patrick Allen believes that not desiccating the crop is one of the keys to his success. "It is a waste of time and it risks staining the crop, which can then affect the end use and eventual premium."

His preferred variety is Maro, although Progreta has been tried. A five-year break between pea crops is maintained, and for the past three years peas have been grown with sugar beet as a double break before wheat.

"Soil conditions are more important than calendar date with peas," says Mr Allen. "Damp, wet soils are disliked by the crop, so it is better to wait than risk a poor start." Last year drilling was completed by Mar 15.

Two days later crops were rolled to get a flat seed-bed for spraying. Reflex T (fomesafen + terbutryn) was applied by Sands Agricultural Services for a range of annual weeds, including bindweeds, knotgrasses and pansies.

"Reflex T does a good job if the conditions are favourable. The soils need to be damp for it to work well. Last year we had to overspray some of the crop where it was too dry, using Fortrol just before flower bud."

Mr Allen also stresses the importance of pigeon control from emergence. "If pigeons get the chance to nip the growing point out, it is a disaster. So reliable control is needed. We have two very good pigeon shooters."

Pea moth traps were put out at the beginning of May and manganese applied to the crop on May 16 to prevent marsh spot.

"We sprayed for both aphids and pea moth on June 6, once populations had reached the accepted thresholds," says Mr Allen.

Harvesting on Aug 15 and 17 gave a final yield of 4.41t/ha (1.78t/acre), Saxon Agriculture buying for 50-60% over feed.

"Colour is important with peas going for human consumption and we were lucky that the dull summer meant the peas did not fade," admits Mr Allen. "It is very important that they are a consistent colour and size."

He also believes they should be harvested just before they are fit. "A couple of days can make a big difference. We move air through them on the barn floor to even out the colour; we think it is worth accepting a moisture claim to gain a colour advantage."


&#8226 1 in 5 rotation.

&#8226 Wait for good seed-bed.

&#8226 246kg/ha seed-rate.

&#8226 Pigeon control vital.

&#8226 Cut early for colour.

Precision agronomy, including an avoidance of desiccants, is vital if growing peas for human consumption, says BEPA pea champion Patrick Allen of Norfolk.

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