The Newest Addition...
Yellow field peas are the newest crop we've added to our rotation. It is also the first legume that we have drilled. A legume, as long as it is properly inoculated, will absorb nitrogen out of the air and fix it in the soil. This is great for the next crop as it is an easily absorbed fertilizer that is better for the environment and free for us. The peas are planted in early spring as soon as the ground is thawed and are harvested before wheat in late June. The plants are made up of small leaves and tendrils with pretty white flowers starting in late May. The plants climb up each other with the tendrils and make the fields a solid mass of green that you cannot walk through. After you see a field covered in tendrils you could see how someone could write a horror movie about getting pulled into a field.
The plants set multiple pods, one from each flower, and it will continue to flower until the weather gets to hot. When the pods have been formed they are delicious and you can eat them just like sugar pea pods. The peas start to develop and the pods swell. After they mature and dry down, we harvest them with the Shelborne header so there is lots of residue to shade the ground and save both moisture and prevent erosion. Handling the peas is different than most crops, they are more fragile than most seeds as they can split in half if struck to hard. We have to run the augers slower and handle them as little as possible. When they are ready to harvest they must be harvested as soon as they are ready, if it takes to long the pods will split open and the seeds that are harvested are more likely to split as well.
Dry field peas have traditionally been used as livestock feeds but they are becoming more popular for our diets very popular for vegan diets as they are high in protein, 20%+, and have many amino acids are that not found in other vegan diet staples. They can be ground for flour and replace flour as a thickener in gravy and many other uses. We are working on removing the hard outer coating so we can make split peas for our customers.