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24 Mar 2022

Pea variety addressing growers' concerns

As featured in Arable Farming Magazine

Pea variety addressing growers concerns

by Arable Farming Magazine March issue

A new combining pea variety is claimed to counter growers worries over the crops standing ability and ease of harvest. Martin Rickatson reports.

A variety with a Descriptive List yield of 117% of controls, nine points clear of the next on the list, would attract the interest of most combinable crop growers.

When it relates to combining peas though, the promise of a barn-busting yield can be tempered by concerns over the ability to get the crop into the combine and the prospect that, should it have to wait a day or two for harvest while priorities such as milling wheat are cut, colour may be lost and, as a result, buyers may lose interest.

The addition of Carrington to the PGRO 2022 Descriptive List would, though, appear to address many of those concerns.

Marketed in the UK by L S Plant Breeding, the French-bred varietys yield figure the highest on the list is supported by scores of 6 for earliness and 7 for standing ability at harvest, plus an 8 for downy mildew resistance.

Interest With the first commercial seed crops due to be sown this spring, it remains to be seen whether these qualities are sufficient to pique the interest of higher numbers of growers.

The initial seed grower and the UK agent, LSPB, believes they should.

Chris Guest, LSPB managing director, says: The perception of peas as being prone to going down in poor weather and challenging to harvest is one thats tended to be passed down generations, meaning many growers havent tried the crop in recent memory.

But modern varieties are early to mature and stand much better than those of 10-15 years ago, as well as being significantly higher yielding.

One of the biggest challenges is they mature at a time when growers may be also cutting milling wheat.

Sufficient combining capacity to retain milling wheat quality and pea colour is important.

Beyond standing power, it is the impact of colour retention on sample quality and therefore marketability that is as important as yield, says Mr Guest.

Carrington was bred in France.

When we trialled it here, not only did it stand out for its very high yield potential, but also for its colour retention.

The French test for this and have data that shows the variety consistently retains its colour.

The one thing that most commonly seems to affect growers judgement when it comes to deciding whether to grow peas is standing power and associated harvesting ease, particularly if considering large areas to fill a rotation slot.

Toby Hogsbjerg, who has been growing our seed multiplication crops, had the sole seed crop of Carrington last year and in his feedback he particularly mentioned combining ease, which underlines what we were convinced of but cannot really gauge at plot trial level.

In the field Toby Hogsbjerg, Wicken Farms Company, Norfolk

Manager of the Wicken Farms Company, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, since 2018, Toby Hogsbjerg oversees 1,000 hectares of sand-based soils with low organic matter.

While black-grass isnt a major problem, a significant area of spring crops is grown, partly because they slot in after roots, which include sugar beet and potatoes.

The farm switched away some time ago from oilseed rape as its main break, largely because of flea beetle/ loss of seed treatment issues.

Since Ive been here it doesnt seem to have stopped raining, says Mr Hogsbjerg.

While weve typically aimed to drill wheat up until the end of January, in the past two years that month has been a wet write-off, so Ive made a December cut-off decision.

However, early in the year we still have sugar beet lifting to finish, 80ha each of onions and potatoes to prepare for, 100ha of sugar beet to drill, 40ha of peas to put in, turkey litter to put on and fertiliser to apply.

If we dont get spring barley in here early enough then it doesnt perform.

So I need alternatives.

The estate has been growing combining peas for three years.

When I came here in winter 2018 we had oilseed rape in the ground, but it didnt perform and doesnt really fit with the cropping system, while because of the roots in the rotation we cant use sewage sludge to get the crop away.

So I brought in peas to replace oilseed rape and ease the workload.

Its an easy crop to grow on this land.

Ive never had a great affinity for growing beans and on this ground I dont think theyd be as profitable as peas.

Downy mildew Although some regard beans as a crop requiring little input, issues such as chocolate spot can soon change that.

With peas, downy mildew may come in, but theres little that can be done about it.

The odd aphicide might be required in a bad year, but other than that the crop usually requires not much more than some fungicide, biostimulants and trace elements.

And if necessary we can irrigate peas if it gets really dry before flowering.

Having grown Daytona and then Mankato, Mr Hogsbjerg was approached last year by LSPB with a view to growing 10 hectares of Carrington for seed.

We drilled on April 1 at approximately 200kg/ha depending on thousand grain weight, using a power harrow combination after ploughing and pressing.

I think a firm, level, even seedbed and sufficient drilling depth are essential, as after that theres little you can do for crop establishment.

The seedbed, which had received a dose of Potash Plus before drilling, was then rolled and a pre-em tank-mix of Nirvana (imazamox + pendimethalin) and Centium (clomazone) applied to not only aid general weed control but also suppress volunteer potatoes.

Subsequent husbandry comprised a first fungicide plus foliar manganese, Bittersalz and Exseed Peas biostimulant, followed later by a second fungicide plus boron, magnesium and molybdenum following a tissue test.

As with most combinable crops, the dull August did affect maturity, and the later than-planned cut around a month later than anticipated, on September 8, having prioritised milling wheat crops did affect the colour slightly, says Mr Hogsbjerg.

As a seed crop, we had to let drying take place naturally.

But the combine driver was actually quite relieved to get to them as they remained standing far better than the 100ha of another variety hed just battled to cut.

I think that also helped with disease resistance as it didnt suffer the downy mildew wed seen in other varieties.

An average yield of 3.9t/ha equated to a total of 38.08 tonnes sold, which, at a price of £290/t, created a gross margin of £708/ha and a net margin of £450/ha.

Peas fit for us where were maxed out on root crops and need a break crop to make the difference, so areas rise and fall depending on the year.

There are few break crop alternatives on a farm of this scale.

If I can get a seed contract and get the crop cut and away as soon as possible to match my storage, then it works well.

And while its not a significant factor, the nitrogen legacy benefit is a help to get the next first wheat crop away, meaning we can cut 30-40kg/ha N from the requirements of a following feed variety.

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