Factors including late drilling and possible continued lack of rain could see average to below average yields in vining pea crops this harvest.
Stephen Francis, managing director of Fen Peas, says he started harvesting on June 18. “We are going 24 hours all the time and have cleared 700 acres out of 5,200 acres. Yields are average and quality is very good. While I’m not a doom monger if we are not going to get any rain, things will not be very good at the end of the programme.”
While sunny conditions have been good for harvesting as well as pea sugars and flavour, rain is needed soon, says Mr Francis, who supplies Greenyard Frozen Foods and expects pea harvest to continue until mid-August.
Meanwhile, having struggled to get peas drilled in difficult spring conditions, Ian Watson of Stemgold Peas expected to start harvesting the weekend of June 30/July 1. “We didn’t drill anything in March which is unheard of for us. We started on April 18 then were rained off on April 23 and didn’t get back on until May 6. A high percentage of the crop was drilled in May.”
He fears that this could cause problems with harvest progress as factories can only receive and freeze peas at a particular rate. “We have also had problems with bean seed fly so we are expecting a very average year.”
Peter Caley, director of the Green Pea Company started harvesting peas on June 24 and says it is too early to comment on yield and quality so far. However, considering that drilling was about three weeks later than normal due to wet and cold weather, crops look good, he says.
“Nature does what it always does and plays catch up. Considering the late start, on average crops are quite healthy but I’m conscious there have to be some repercussions because of the fast growing period and late start.
“The hot weather is highly likely to have some impact and make crops mature faster than they would normally do.”