Green pea soil preparation
Achieving good yields green pea soil preparation is the first step for any grower. The soil must be well drained as green peas are very sensitive to waterlogged conditions. Make sure that the water table of the underground water is not closer to the surface than 800 mm. As with any crop, a loamy well drained soil is the best. But be careful. You might have a loamy well drained soil but the water table can be high, so that does not help a lot. The pH should be between 5.5 and 7. Be careful if the pH goes below 5.5, it can influence the nutrient uptake of some elements and reduce yields.
During green pea soil preparation the first part of nutrients must be added to the soil. Be very careful when adding lime without a good soil analysis or expert advice. As a general rule the following guide can be used and compared to expert recommendations. They will not be valid under all conditions so use with care. Lime is usually applied 6-8 weeks before planting on soils with pH < 5.5. A fertilizer application of 700-1000 kg of 2:3:2 (22) broadcasted and ploughed in with a disc harrow a week or less before planting is always recommended. The above application of 2:3:2 will be enough for the following 2-3 weeks depending on he soil type and planting density.
Peas respond very well to nitrogen. If growth appears to be poor, nitrogen (N) may be added by means of top dressing of limestone ammonium nitrate (LAN). Ammonium sulfate is used only on soils with pH above 7. One or two top dressings of 30-45 kg N per hectare can be applied withing 2-3 weeks of planting.
Green pea soil preparation starts a month before planting. The soil must be ploughed. Most of the weeds should be killed. 2-3 shallow cultivations can be done if there are many weeds. Make sure that the soil surface is smooth without large clods. Clods the size of a fist should be broken as they tend to generate lots of heat and kill young seedlings. The more uniform the soil is the more even the germination will be and the better yields will be achieved. Even germination is extremely important as it makes harvesting easier. If all the plants are the same, the pods will be at the same height for harvesting and can easily be identified. If mechanical harvesting is used it is crucial that a very even stand is achieved.
Planting green pea seed
Pea seed is planted with a grain planter. For the small scale farmer it can be planted by hand.
Planting depth is 50-70 mm. but in heavy soils seed must be planted shallower, 30-40 mm. Seed germination takes 8-10 days. Immediately after planting roll the soil to create an even top surface which is important for mechanical harvesting. Be very careful not to compact the top layer of the soil. This will prevent the seedlings pushing through the compacted layer and reduce germination percentage.
Green pea plant spacing depends on whether the seed is being planted on a large scale, such as for mechanical harvesing, or small scale for hand harvesting.
The spacing for peas depend on the variety and planting time. Early varieties that produce less vegetative growth are usually spaced more closely that late varieties with a lot of leaves. So varieties with less vegetative grown can be planted closer to each other. Late varieties have more leaves or vegetative growth. Green peas should not be planted closer than 180 x 50 mm. This planting spacing will provide a population of 111 plants per square meter (plants/m²) and will require 250 kg seed/ha (medium sized seed). Populations of 70-80 plants/m² spaced 180-200 mm between rows and 60-70 mm within rows are the most common. At these populations seed requirements is only 150 kg/ha. Peas grown for the fresh market and hand harvested are spaced 500-750 mm between rows and 50 mm between plants in the row. If a grain planted is used double rows of 180 – 360 mm between rows and 500-750 mm between pairs of rows. Double rows allows plants to entwine and protect each other from wind damage. The space between the double row is kept clear to provide room for cultivation operations and harvesting.