Peas under pressure

MANY Tasmanian pea growers are facing lower than average yields this year after record wet spring conditions.

Unseasonably wet weather during the early growing season has taken a toll on many pea crops, creating issues with disease and crop losses.

Chairman of Simplot’s pea grower committee Will Green said the weather had prevented some growers from even planting crops this season.

For those that did manage to get their peas in the ground, he said there were varied results.

“It’s a mixed bag, there are some good crops and then there’s some bad crops and I think the early ones are probably more the below average ones from what I’ve heard,” he said.

“Once they get up and growing, they don’t like it too wet and if they are, collar rot sets in and disease.”

Mr Green said after a tough start for many crops, the need for irrigation could bring added challenges.

“When you start to irrigate the wet patches in the paddock tend to get bigger because there’s no water getting out, but the rest of the crop needs water, so you have to irrigate.”

Usually, the pea harvest follows a tight schedule moving into different areas according to the planting program.

Harvesting has now commenced but Mr Green said it was running a late this year.

“They’re not getting here until after Christmas and normally they would be here in this area by now,” he said.

“I know there are a few growers that have kept crops even knowing they aren’t that good.

“I think it’s a case of going anywhere they can to get peas now, within reason.”

Mr Green said huge amounts of rain had fallen on the pea crops at his farm near Cressy about four weeks after planting.

“They’re average, probably a bit below average in some cases,” he said.

“They had something like 400mm on them when they were only about four or five weeks old.

That’s well and truly more than what it takes to grow a crop, and we haven’t even finished irrigating yet.”

Mr Green said spray programs had been difficult because some of the usual chemicals cannot be used if the plants are under stress.

This season Simplot was initially hoping to get in around 24,000 tonnes of peas but Mr Green estimated that with lower yields and lost crops this year’s harvest could produce closer to 15,000 tonnes.

“Some growers have got some good crops and some equally bad crops, it varies a lot,” he said.

“This year won’t go down as a great one for peas though, that’s for sure.”