Science into practice: recommending the best vining pea varieties

Varietal selection is a key element of vining pea crop production to ensure a programmed harvest period and to maintain high-quality produce.

Every year the Processors & Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) evaluates 15 or so varieties in the UK's only independent trials funded by Seedsmen and a PGRO levy.

The soil at the PGRO trials grounds at Thornhaugh, Cambridgeshire, represents only a proportion of the national pea-growing production area, but varieties can perform differently in other soil types and areas. The HDC project FV 340 delivers an extension of the PGRO evaluation by funding trials on a silt soil in Lincolnshire to supplement the PGRO data.

New vining pea varieties in trial represent improvements in yield, size grade and uniformity compared with older varieties. Accurate information on maturity enables growers to schedule a sequential and uninterrupted harvest. Improvements in colour can avoid payment deductions of up to five per cent. The data from FV 340 provides additional information, available in a growers' leaflet from the HDC and PGRO.

Biktop, a semi-leafless and semi-fasciated variety that matures at the same time as Bikini, the current standard variety for yield, had the highest yields in the trial. Its peas had a dark and even colour.

Some varieties were assessed for susceptibility to downy and powdery mildew. Biktop had good field resistance to downy mildew. However, for powdery mildew, where plants were scored at full pod, Biktop was susceptible. Boogie, a semi-leafless type that is also out-yielding Bikini, was susceptible to downy mildew but proved to be resistant to powdery mildew.

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