Early Peas Damaged by Freezing

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

Early peas have suffered damage by the freezing winds on Monday night. Peas normally will stand cold temperatures down to the low 20s. However the combination of high winds (gusts up to 50 mph), freezing temperatures (25-30°F), and peas well ahead of schedule on growth (some as tall as 6 inches) set up conditions for plant damage. Areas protected by wood lines and hedgerows were not damaged. Peas planted later that were just cracking the ground were also not damaged.

Peas are interesting in that if the top is frosted to the ground level, they will develop new stems from dormant buds below ground. There will be 1-3 new stems that develop. This will be seen within a week after the frost. These stems will develop and flower later than undamaged plants. Generally, frost damaged peas will yield 5-20% less due to the differences in maturities in the field and having weaker plants.

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