Pea Planting

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

Pea planting has started across the region. A common problem with early pea plantings is compaction and resulting yield losses, particularly where field operations were performed when soils were too wet. Much of the loss is due to reduced germination or seedling death. In addition, early maturing (low heat unit) peas have a lower yield potential and cannot compensate for stand losses as well as later maturing varieties. Compacted soils also set up conditions favorable to the development of root rots which further limit yields. Research has shown that root rot severity can be increased by over 50% in peas where there is heavy compaction.

Another interesting note on peas is the potential to increase overall yields by planting longer maturing varieties, even for the early plantings. Long season varieties have greater genetic potential for producing high yields. While processors will want to plant early varieties to start the season to supply factories starting at the end of May, including later maturing varieties in early plantings will produce higher yields for the next round of harvests in early June and then onward.

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