Are peas making a comeback?

In recent years, beans have been the choice for most when it comes to protein crops. When the vegetable market went for peas, the crop was simply too hard to predict at harvest time and farmers opted for a simpler option.

Goldcrop is on the hunt for varieties of peas with good standing power. Joe Millerick talked through some of the varieties being trialed at the company’s recent open day in Co. Cork.

“Everyone knows the problem we have with peas in this country is trying to keep them standing,” Joe stated, before adding that the company currently has 16 varieties on trial in the search for varieties with good standing power.

Kingfisher is performing well so far and is out on farms at present. It also has good resistance to downy mildew.

He outlined some of the advantages that the crop could add to a farm’s rotation. While peas are a break crop, provide an opportunity to control grass weeds and allow the protein payment to be claimed they have some added advantages over beans, according to Joe.

“They have a more flexible sowing date and a higher protein content than beans.”

Very importantly peas don’t contain tannins, which allow for higher inclusion rates and less processing in animal feed, compared to beans.

Management is relatively straightforward during the growing season. Peas respond well to trace element applications of sulphur and molybdenum and a seed dressing provides early control of downy mildew which helps to prevent severe infection later in the season.

Weed control is best at pre-emergence (a follow-up may be required). The pea weevil and aphids – later in the season – are pests to look out for.

Taking all this into consideration, Joe added: “If we can find a variety that will stand in Irish conditions we think it’s a real option for farmers.”