Farming News - Peas could replace sugar beet in Norfolk farmer's crop rotation.
Peas could replace sugar beet in Norfolk farmer's crop rotation.
For David Wroth of Bell Farm, Docking in Norfolk, his crop of peas performed so well last year, that this year he has doubled his hectarage, and even sees the possibility of peas becoming a replacement for sugar beet in his rotation.
“Last year was the first year that we have included peas in the rotation, and this came about as we agreed to grow a seed crop of the large blue pea LG Aviator, for breeder Limagrain UK who are local to us.”
“There have been pea trials on the farm before, but we have never grown a crop commercially as it were, but LG Aviator sounded like a variety worth trying.”
The crop was really straight forward to grow, he notes. “The key was not rushing to drill in the spring until conditions were suitable – which was the 22nd March. The previous crop was sugar beet.”
“We established the crop using a single pass with a Cousins Patriot combination cultivator and then drilled with a HORSCH Pronto drill, at a seed rate of 90 seeds/m2.”
Pesticide application March
Pesticide application June
“Season long the crop looked good, we had no disease issues and it stood well. It flowered earlier than other varieties in the area, quite noticeably by as much as two-three weeks.”
“Most of the pods formed at the top of the plant which made for an easier harvest.”
“We set a date when we would harvest the crop and stuck to it, and that’s the key with harvesting peas I think. This year we harvested the peas on 12/13th August.”
He recognises that not being such a large farm, there is the advantage of a certain amount of flexibility at harvest.
“We didn’t come away with the highest yields in the world, but considering the season, we were pleased as they averaged out 3.5-4 t/ha.”
“The plan is that if the peas continue to do well, we may increase the acres year on year reducing the sugar beet in the rotation, eventually replacing the 40 hectares or so that is currently grown.”
“In the current scenario of very high nitrogen fertiliser prices, the nitrogen fixing ability of the peas is very valuable.”
LG Aviator will join the PGRO Descriptive List this year, as a fully recommended variety with a yield of 100% over control.
Pulse breeder for Limagrain, Will Pillinger explains that the reason for these high yields is because LG Aviator is a multi-podded variety type. “For each node that LG Aviator produces, there are three pods; this means there are more pods at the top of the plant rather than spread through the plant, making for a more even maturity with less competition for light - and this is a significant characteristic in building yield.”
He notes that with this stunning and predictable plant habit, this new type of manageable green pea variety makes planning pesticide and nutrient applications far easier than conventional ‘semi-indeterminate’ types. This also applies for predicting the harvest period, which is really useful.
Agronomically, there is much to like about the variety he adds. “LG Aviator offers one of the best resistances to downey mildew (8) and is highly resistant to powdery mildew. It’s early, and has good ratings for standing ability and straw length (rated 6) – making it one of the best agronomic packages of any other provisionally rated varieties.”
“Suitable for both human consumption and for animal protein, all of this makes for a very exciting variety and one that should perform well for UK growers.”