Pulse School

A Rookie’s Guide to Growing Peas

If there was some way of measuring trending topics in farmer conversations in Western Canada over the past six months, “so, are you growing peas this year?” would be at or near the top.

Thanks to the very strong prices that are accompanying a global pulse shortage, a record number of pea (and lentil) acres are expected on the prairies this year, meaning they’ll be grown on farms that haven’t grown them before, or haven’t grown them in many years.

Dennis Lange, pulse crop specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, usually spends his winters talking about soybeans and edible beans, but field peas have been added to the list lately.

Peas should be one of the first crops to go in the ground, he notes in this Pulse School episode going over some of the fundamentals for growing peas in Western Canada.

“Ideally, you want to be at 7 to 8 plants per square foot but you want to have an established plant stand around 5 to 6 plants,” says Lange.

When it comes to field selection, make sure to check for potential problems with herbicide residues from previous years. He also recommends choosing well-drained fields and fields that have not been used for soybean production in the last two years.

“Just because of the risk of volunteer soybeans — food grade market buyers don’t like have soybeans in the seed,” he notes.

Lange urges growers to consider the market they’re hoping to sell peas into and work back from there in making management decisions in-season and through harvest.

“First of all, when picking a variety, pick a variety buyers want. From there, go back through harvest, meaning you have to get a clean, nice-looking sample. How do you do that? Well, through weed control through the season and by field selection,” he says. “At the end of the day, everything relates back to that final product.”