Interruptions to drilling and recent wet weather have adversely affected the vining pea crop as harvest gets underway.
Stemgold Peas operations manager Ian Watson began harvesting 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) on July 5 and expects yields to be down 15% on last year. “We’re harvesting at about the normal time. Quality is reasonably ok but we’ve had variable rainfall which has had an effect on later crops. We expect average to below season yields.
“We’ll be going for another 6-7 weeks and don’t need extremes of wet or heat.”
Because yield is down, the company, a co-operative of 20 growers in north Lincolnshire, which is currently operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will be using three instead of the usual two harvesters this season. “As the yields are down we need to do this to keep continuity of supply to the factory.”
Beginning harvest in the last days of June, Peter Caley, director of the Green Pea company, says it has been a steady start. “It has been very patchy. The drilling programme was interrupted and peas are coming to maturity unevenly as well. Yields are average really. It is not an exceptional year. We expect about 4.5t/ha but whether we’ll achieve it over the 50-day harvest it is too early to say.”
Green Pea company grows 10,000ha (25,000 acres) of vining peas for Bird’s Eye. “Just like a lot of sectors there is continual pressure from the retail market to become more efficient – they want the same quality pea for less cost,” adds Mr Caley.
Recent rainfall is proving challenging for Stephen Francis, managing director of Fen Peas, who began harvesting 2,240ha (5,600 acres) in Lincolnshire on June 26. “There are real challenges in terms of travelling and there are also issues with foot rot because of too much rain.
“We’ll have to have a break in a day or two to let the crop catch up and interruption means higher costs.”
Quality is good but he expects yield to be down about 10 per cent on normal. “I can safely say it will not be 100 per cent crop. At the moment yields are 2.4t/acre frozen weight.”