Here are some tips from Sydney University breeder Steve Moore for growers thinking of trying field peas.
Paddock selection: Field pea is suited to a wide range of soils from light- to heavy-textured and from 4.5 to 8.0 pH (calcium chloride). It does not tolerate extended periods of waterlogging. Like all pulses it is sensitive to soil residues of sulfonylurea herbicides.
Planting time: Field pea should be sown to ensure optimal flowering time. Kiley should be sown in northern NSW from 21 May to 15 June to provide the most consistent yields. Similar data for the Eastern Downs region in Queensland indicate the optimal planting time to be early to late June.
The optimal flowering period for field pea in northern NSW is from late August to late September. Successful flowering and seed set are reduced by frost events and when maximum temperatures rise above 25°C. Flowering and seed set generally cease above 30°C.
The following factors should be considered when planting field pea:
- select seed source carefully to avoid using seed infected with diseases or pea weevil. All seed should be fumigated to eliminate the possibility of any pea weevil being introduced in seed
- inoculation is essential for all soil types
- aim to establish 60-70 plants/m2. Reduced plant establishment means lower yields
- rows no wider than 25 cm are recommended
- consider planting into standing stubble if possible to assist crop standability
- rolling the paddock after sowing can aid harvest and reduce dirt contamination in harvested grain.
Nutrition: It is recommended that growers conduct soil tests prior to planting and follow usual guidelines for wheat in terms of application of fertilisers.
Herbicides and insecticides: There are a number of herbicides and insecticides currently recommended for weed and pest control in field pea.
Diseases: Powdery mildew is the major threat to field pea in the region. Kiley has field resistance to powdery mildew and does not require the application of fungicides.
Insect pests: Helicoverpa will cause damage to field pea crops. Most crops will require spraying during late flowering and pod filling. Pea weevil is also a potential pest problem for the northern region.
Desiccation: Desiccation advances pea maturity by up to 10 days and can overcome harvest problems caused by late weed growth.
Harvest: Harvest normally occurs well before wheat is ready and should commence as soon as seed moisture falls to 13 per cent.
Marketing: Field pea produced in the northern region is expected to be marketed for stockfeed with very limited potential into the higher-priced human consumption market.