Thursday, August 22, 2019

Prospects good for growers to profit from peas

February 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Crops

Prolonged dry weather and high temperatures meant peas had a difficult time last season – but plenty of growers still produced some very good crops.

Despite a challenging season, peas still delivered solid gross margins on many farms, suggesting they will be another excellent choice for 2019, says Chris Guest, Gleadell seed manager and managing director of pulse specialists Dunns (Long Sutton).

“Some growers managed to coax some excellent yields and, importantly good colour, which is vital to achieve the best returns when growing marrowfats and large blues for human consumption. It shows that, treated well, the crop can be a reliable performer.”

Market outlook

Although the recent AHDB Early Bird survey suggests the areas of winter wheat and winter barley has increased, up to 50,000ha of poorly established oilseed rape is expected to be ripped out, while plenty of growers with grass weed problems are looking for alternatives to winter cereals.

These factors – coupled with a buoyant market outlook and tight seed supplies for competitor crops such as spring barley, beans and oats – could lead to an increased pea area next spring, believes Mr Guest.

“Pea varieties have improved dramatically over the past decade. The days of combining a flattened crop one way have gone. New material is stiff and early, producing excellent yields of high quality material suited to premium markets, resulting in solid gross margins.” 

Top quality human consumption material has traded up to £75/t over feed this season, thanks to tight supply of both marrowfats and blues and good demand. With good forward prices for next season, choosing the right variety and looking after it is important, says Mr Guest. 

New varieties

Gleadell is offering two new varieties this season. Kingfisher, from LG Seeds, is the stiffest large blue variety on the list and the joint earliest. It produces a bold, attractive sample thanks to its good colour retention, and has reasonable downy mildew resistance.

Stablemate LG Stallion, which gained full recommendation on the 2019 Recommended List, has excellent standing power and excellent colour retention, and is capable of even higher yields. It holds the world record for combining peas, yielding 6.47t/ha on the Lincolnshire Wolds in 2017.

“A quick look at the list reveals higher yielding varieties, but seed is very short for those and, with an LSD of 7%, the difference is much less than it first appears,” Mr Guest notes. 

“Both Kingfisher and Stallion will be in high demand among growers. These varieties, together with Daytona and Campus, are available on Gleadell’s market-leading buyback contracts for harvest 2019, returning solid gross margins.”  

Good agronomy pays

Good nutrition, delivered by a combination of well-structured rooting systems and timely nutrient applications as required, is essential to obtain maximum yield and quality.

“Peas don’t like compaction. Soils need to be aerated well, to allow the crop to establish a good root structure and to aid nutrient uptake. Warm soil will also help the crop establish quickly. That means waiting for the right conditions rather than going by the calendar,” says Mr Guest.

A good seed dressing such as Wakil XL will help suppress downy mildew, particularly with marrowfat peas. A good nutrient programme is also vital. Micronutrients are critical for the growing pea crop, and leaf testing should be routine.