Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Rising demand for vegetable-based proteins and the benefits legumes bring to rotations is underpinning increased interest in combinable peas. Big interest in high protein combinable green pea variety

• Highest protein of new green peas

• Meets increased market demand

• Strong yields and good agronomy

Rising demand for vegetable-based proteins and the benefits legumes bring to rotations is underpinning increased interest in combinable peas.

With the highest protein content of all new green pea varieties on the PGRO descriptive list for 2023, KWS Gotham looks set to bring growers substantive management and marketing opportunities, says the plant breeder’s Kate Cobbold.

“We’ve seen significant growth in the area put down to peas in recent years but the rising costs of fertiliser over the last 18 months has added yet another compelling case for growing peas,” she says.

“Unlike most other arable options, peas don’t need expensive nitrogen fertiliser to maximise their production. As such, they offer growers a genuinely low-input spring crop.”

As well as fixing their own nitrogen, peas are a valuable break crop. They increase biodiversity, condition soil and open up a range of weed control options.

But Ms Cobbold says the most influential market driver now is the rapid growth in demand for pea-based protein for use in the food industry.

“Peas are a key protein source in a wide range of foods including meat substitutes, energy bars, milks, yogurt, batters and ice cream. In some cases, pea protein is even replacing soya protein in more processed foods.

“It’s been driven by a move to more vegetarian-type diets and pea protein is very much the first choice of fitness fanatics. Pea flour and pea-based snacks are also increasingly available in the shops.”

With demand for pea protein rising, considerable interest is expected in KWS Gotham. The variety boasts a yield of 107% over controls. But the the real stand-out figure is 22.1% protein – exactly what growers and processors are now looking for.

“Agronomically-speaking, it’s a strong contender too, with resistance to pea wilt and a commendable 4 for downy mildew resistance,” says Ms Cobbold.

“A score of 3 for early ripening, a relatively short straw length of 86cm and a standing ability at harvest of 6 add to its in-field reliability and resilience, while a thousand seed weight of 289g rounds off the package.”

First choice

First choice varieties continue to be KWS green pea Mankato and yellow pea Manager, both of which remain staples of the industry. But Ms Cobbold says KWS Gotham looks like taking the game several stages on.

“Mankato’s consistency has made it a good choice for growers new to peas and it’s been a top 25% performer in the PGRO descriptive list for several years. Much of this reliability is down to a near perfect combination of standing power and yield.

“There are probably varieties that individually yield higher or are stiffer, but none have a stronger combination of these key characteristics.

“Plus, Mankato is really marketable with a big seed that pea micronisers really like as they can cut it in half plus it has good colour which it holds well.”

Manager is the latest yellow pea to hit the market from the successful KWS Momont pulse breeding programme, adds Ms Cobbold.

“It is a very high yielding variety nationally over a range of soil types and has a strong disease resistance package including resistance to pea wilt.

“Very short stiff straw means a safe harvest and this has helped Manager demonstrate consistently high yields compared to other varieties in trials over recent years – plus it consistently produces a large seed size.

“Both Mankato and Manager are going to be top performers for some time to come, but KWS Gotham represents a new style of pea variety that will undoubtedly form the basis of our commercial pipeline for several years to come.”