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Chapter 22: Peas

22.1 Varieties

Tables of Disease Resistant Varieties 

22.2 Planting Methods

Because pea seed germinates in relatively cool soil (as low as 40°F), planting can begin in late March or early April and continue until May 15 to 20. Hot, dry conditions in July adversely affect yield, so it is advantageous to have the crop mature as early as planting schedules allow.

Caution. Peas are very sensitive to atrazine residues. Do not plant in fields where more than one pound of atrazine was applied the previous year.

Plant at a uniform depth of no more than one inch unless the soil is exceptionally dry. Rolling or cultipacking the soil after planting will firm the ground and push stones into the soil, which facilitates machine harvest. Attaching the roller behind the drill eliminates an additional set of tractor wheel marks and too much soil compaction on some rows of planted peas.

In general, seed should not be inoculated with symbiotic bacteria that fix nitrogen. The application of nitrogen fertilizers and the presence of the bacteria in soil from previous pea crops make it a questionable practice. Fields with no history of peas in the rotation may benefit from inoculation, particularly if the nitrogen application is low.

Because seed size varies greatly between varieties, seeding rate must be adjusted accordingly. See Table 22.2.1 and Table 22.2.2 below.

Table 22.2.1 Recommended spacing

Type Row
Early 18-22 7
Late 16-18  
Fresh 18-20 32-36

Table 22.2.2 Approximate number of seeds to drop to obtain 16 to 22 plants per yard of row when laboratory germination is as indicated

  Laboratory germination (percent)
  100 95 90 85 80 85
Plants/yard Number of seeds to drop per yard of row
16 16 17 18 19 20 21
17 17 18 19 20 22 23
18 18 19 20 22 23 24
19 19 20 22 23 24 26
20 20 22 23 24 25 27
21 21 23 24 25 27 28
22 22 24 25 26 28 30

22.3 Fertility

Maintain a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Do not apply fertilizer in the seeded row as salt injury will occur. See Table 22.3.1 below, for the recommended rates of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

22.4 Harvesting

Intact pea pods serve as controlled, atmospheric storages that maintain quality for about one week at 32°F and 90 to 95 percent relative humidity. Once shelled, quality deteriorates rapidly. For this reason, processing peas, which are shelled in the field, must be transported quickly to the processing facility.

Table 22.3.1 Recommended nutrients based on soil tests


N pounds/acre P2O5 pounds/acre   K2O pounds/acre Comments
  Soil Phosphorus Level   Soil Potassium Level  
  low med. high   low med. high  
40-50 100 75 50   120 80 40 Total recommended.
40-50 100 75 50   120 80 40 Broadcast and disk-in or drill deep and mix into the soil.

22.5 Disease Management

22.5.1 Seed Decay and Root Rot

22.5.2 Fusarium Wilt

22.5.3 Ascochyta Leaf Spot


22.6 Insect Management

22.6.1 Seedcorn Maggot

22.6.2 Slugs


22.7 Weed Management



Maintained by Abby Seaman, New York State IPM Program. Last modified 2019.