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    QUICK FACTS Vegetables

 

     
 
 

History

Interesting fact
Sowing and harvesting

Popular pea cultivars in New Zealand

Nutritional value
Nutritional value
Integrated garden management
Pests & diseases of peas

Fungal & viral diseases

Pests
A final word
           
 
 

Peas

Peas (Pisum sativum) belong to the Leguminosae family, which includes beans and is characterised by having seeds in pods and root nodules containing bacteria that fix nitrogen. The nitrogen fixation process, where atmospheric nitrogen is made available to the plant, is particularly important as it can be utilised to increase soil fertility during crop rotations.

There are two types of pea generally grown by home gardeners. These are the garden pea, where the peas are removed from the pod before being eaten, and edible pod peas (sugar snap and sugar pod or snow peas) where the whole pod including immature peas is eaten.

 

History

Peas probably originated from Ethiopia, Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean. There is evidence that they were cultivated as early as 6000 BC and they were a component of Greek and Roman diets.

Peas have been grown in New Zealand since the arrival of the European settlers. Trials of varieties imported from the UK and USA were carried out in the 1920s and breeding programmes to develop varieties suitable for New Zealand conditions were initiated at that time.

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Interesting fact

Peas are a very successful crop to process since they retain an exceptionally high proportion of the vitamins and other nutrients found in fresh peas. In particular, the nutritive value of frozen peas is almost as good as fresh peas.

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Sowing and harvesting

Peas are cool season plants, which means that their main growth and flowering period is during spring when temperatures range from 10-16°C.

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Popular pea cultivars in New Zealand

Garden pea cultivars can be categorised by the height of the plant and the time of maturity.

Garden peas

William Massey is the classic garden pea variety used in New Zealand. This is an early season, dwarf cultivar that matures in 70–80 days. It was one of the pea cultivars originally brought into New Zealand in the 1920s as Kelvedon Wonder. During the 1950s, resistance to the pea wilt disease was introduced to William Massey in New Zealand breeding programmes.

Little Marvel is a dwarf variety with similar maturity to William Massey. It is susceptible to pea wilt disease but can perform better than William Massey under unfavourable seasonal conditions.

Greenfeast (synonymous with Lincoln) is a mid-season (80-85 days), dwarf variety that, like William Massey, was introduced to New Zealand early in the 1900s and subsequently selected for pea wilt resistance. Immunity to bean yellow mosaic virus (also called pea mosaic) was introduced to this cultivar in the 1960s. It is a very hardy pea and is widely grown although tends to have uneven sized peas and can have uneven maturity. The peas are paler than most other garden peas, as the seed has a yellow cotyledon; most garden peas have a green cotyledon.

Onward is also a mid-season, dwarf variety and has resistance to pea wilt disease. Another popular home variety, Onward requires better growing conditions and is about a week later maturing than Greenfeast.

Giant Alderman is a late maturing (up to 100 days), tall cultivar. It is lower yielding than most other cultivars but does have the advantage of allowing fresh peas to be harvested over a longer period. Unlike most garden peas, it grows well in the northern regions of New Zealand.

Trounce is resistant to powdery mildew.

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Nutritional Value

Garden peas are one of the most common vegetables in the New Zealand diet. Peas are mainly carbohydrate, but they are also a good source of protein, and they have 3% fibre and less than 1% fat. Peas also contain some important vitamins and minerals. For example, fresh garden peas contain 16 mg vitamin C/100 g and 70 mg folic acid/100 g, which are both more than one-third of the Australian recommended daily intake, and 1.7 mg iron/100 g, which is more than one-fifth of the recommended daily intake for adult males. Peas are a good source of vitamin E, and also contain carotenoids, the precursors to vitamin A, and a number of minerals, including potassium and magnesium.

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Pests and Diseases

Peas are susceptible to a number of diseases.Fortunately, few pests affect peas. To minimise the effects of pests and diseases on peas in the home garden, the principles of Integrated Garden Management (IGM) should be used.

Integrated Garden Management for peas

IGM techniques initially rely on preventing pests and diseases entering the crop. This is not always possible so the crop should be watched closely during growth for the first signs of pests or disease. Once the pest or disease has been identified, an appropriate control technique should be selected. This may involve more than one method and will not necessarily involve the application of chemicals. Chemical control can be very effective for large areas of crop or when a pest or disease attack is particularly severe. However, in home gardens, the application of chemicals, especially insecticides, can upset the ecological balance within the garden and lead to further outbreaks of other pests and diseases. Some IGM techniques useful for growing pea crops include crop rotation, resistant cultivars, seed treatment, weed control, fertiliser, irrigation, biological control and chemicals.

For more information on integrated garden management and specific pests and diseases, see More info.

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Pests and diseases of peas

The main pests and diseases affecting peas in New Zealand and some suggestions for their control are outlined below.

Fungal and viral diseases

A number of fungal, viral and bacterial diseases affect peas, including powdery mildew, Downy mildew and Ascochyta blight, and bacterial blight.

For more information on these diseases please go to More info.

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Pests

Few insect pests affect peas, the main problem being aphids that transmit the viruses described above. Two of the most common aphids that transmit pea viruses are the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and the peach potato virus (Myzus persicae). There are insecticides that will control aphids, but it is probably more important to control weeds or other legumes that may be infected with viruses.

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A final word

Peas are a very rewarding crop to grow. There is nothing quite like fresh peas picked from the garden and eaten raw. It is important to monitor the pea crop regularly, especially near harvest, to ensure that the ripe pods are picked as they mature and are not allowed to become over-mature.

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