Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter, Vol. 4, No.1 – April 2016

In this issue:

Dear Grower,

Planting season is upon us. First, we want to thank everyone who was able to support and attend the 2016 Maine Grain Conference. We’ve heard many good things from you all regarding it, and hope everyone was able to take some benefit from it. If any of you have suggestions on topics, speakers, or otherwise for future conferences, please feel free to let one of us know of your ideas at anytime. Two new articles for this edition of the newsletter are based upon trial results conducted this past growing season on barley varieties and field peas. We hope to be providing more of these types of articles in the future as our research and demonstration capacity increases.  Past articles that you may find useful for planting season are on “Seeding Rates and Drill Calibration” and a partnering article to this on “Planting by Population.”

Andrew Plant, Extension Agriculture Educator

57 Houlton Road, Presque Isle, ME 04769
207.764.3361 or 1.800.287.1462

Malting Barley Variety Trial 2015 Results

Tom Molloy, Ellen Mallory, Andrew Plant
University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Twenty varieties of two- and six-row spring malting barley were trialed at University of Maine research farms in Old Town and Presque Isle in 2015 (Table 1).  The trials were conducted in collaboration with nine other institutions from Indiana to Prince Edward Island as part of the Eastern US Spring Malting Barley Evaluation project, organized by North Dakota State University.

Table 1. Spring malting varieties evaluated in Old Town and Presque Isle, Maine in 2015.

Variety Type Developer
AAC Synergy 2-row Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Brandon)
AC Metcalfe 2-row Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Brandon)
Bentley 2-row FCDC (Lacombe, Alberta, Canada)
CDC Copeland 2-row CDC (University of Saskatchewan)
CDC Meredith 2-row CDC (University of Saskatchewan)
Cerveza 2-row Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Brandon)
Conlon 2-row North Dakota State University
Full Pint 2-row Oregon State University
Harrington 2-row North Dakota State University
Innovation 6-row Busch Agricultural Resources, LLC
Klages 2-row USDA-ARS Aberdeen, ID
Lacey 6-row University of Minnesota
ND Genesis 2-row North Dakota State University
ND22421 6-row North Dakota State University
Newdale 2-row Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Brandon)
Pinnacle 2-row North Dakota State University
Quest 6-row University of Minnesota
Robust 6-row University of Minnesota
Scarlett 2-row Saatzucht Josef Breun GmbH & Co
Tradition 6-row Busch Agricultural Resources, LLC

† Field Crop Development Center
‡ Crop Development Center


University of Maine Rogers Farm — Old Town, ME: The previous crop was buckwheat, and the soil was a Melrose fine sandy loam, with pH 6.2, and medium phosphorus and above optimum potassium levels. Solid dairy manure was applied on April 30 at a rate of 20 tons/acre and immediately incorporated. The field was prepared with a seedbed conditioner and planted at 1.3 million live seeds/acre on May 1 with a cone seeder (6.5 inch row spacing). Plots were tine harrowed on May 22 when the barley plants had approximately three to four leaves; and were harvested on August 6 with a plot combine.

University of Maine Aroostook Farm — Presque Isle, ME: The previous crop was potato and the soil was a Caribou gravely loam.  Soil pH was 5.6.  Potassium and phosphorus levels were optimum.  Plots were chisel plowed on May 18, seedbed conditioned on May 21, and planted at 1.3 million live seeds/acre on May 21 with a small plot cone seeder (6.5-inch row spacing).  Ammonium nitrate was applied on June 10 at 60 lb/acre of nitrogen.  A combination of herbicides, MCPA Rhomene at ¾ pint/acre and Harmony at 1 oz/acre, were applied on June 26.  Plots were harvested on September 2 with a plot combine.


Grain yields were relatively high at both sites, averaging 96 bu/acre in Old Town and 91 bu/acre in Presque Isle (Table 2). The statewide average barley yield in 2015 was 85 bu/acre, and the 15-year average is 59 bu/acre (National Agriculture Statistics Service). The highest yielding varieties were ND22421, Quest, AAC Synergy and Robust. Scarlett and Harrington were the lowest yielding and also the most susceptible to leaf diseases. The primary leaf diseases found at both sites were leaf rust, net blotch and some powdery mildew. Other variety characteristics reported in Table 2 include heading date, spike density, stem height, stem breakage, and grain moisture at harvest.

Grain quality measures are reported in Table 3. The grain from both sites tested low for mycotoxin deoxinivalenol (DON), which is produced by Fusarium head blight. Finished grain products with DON levels exceeding 1 ppm are considered unsafe for human consumption (US Food and Drug Administration). DON reached 1 ppm in only one case. Pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) was an issue at the Presque Isle site, due to delayed harvest. PHS reduces malting quality by reducing grain germination ability. PHS damage was assessed with a Rapid Visco-Analyzer (RVA) which reports “stirring numbers.” RVA stirring numbers below 120 indicate PHS damage. The average stirring number at the Presque Isle site was 36, however, Tradition, Robust and Quest, all 6-row varieties, demonstrated PHS resistance with stirring numbers above 120. In Old Town, where harvest was timely, all but seven varieties tested above 120.  Gran protein levels at both sites were low, likely due to high yields (Table 3). The generally accepted protein range for malting barley is below 12.5% for grain at 13.5% moisture (The Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute). Kernel plumpness was good to excellent across varieties and sites with Harrington being the one exception.

Table 2. Barley grain yield and moisture, foliar disease severity, and growth characteristics in Old Town and Presque in 2015.

Yield† Grain Moisture at Harvest‡ Foliar Disease Severity Height Stem Breakage Spike Density Heading date
(bu/acre) (%) (1 – 9) § (in) (1-9) # (num/ft2) Days after 5/31
Variety Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle
AAC Synergy 104 106 16.3 14.0 5.3 3.7 30.2 25.5 1.3 1.0 71 68 25 47
AC Metcalfe 95 93 15.0 14.3 4.8 5.5 33.7 23.5 3.0 1.0 86 59 26 55
Bentley 100 91 16.3 14.0 4.5 4.5 32.4 24.7 3.3 1.3 51 61 25 48
CDC Copeland 98 89 15.0 14.7 5.0 5.0 32.2 25.9 3.3 2.3 83 61 31 48
CDC Meredith 100 99 16.0 14.3 4.2 3.5 30.8 24.4 3.3 1.7 77 81 30 46
Cerveza 101 98 14.7 14.0 3.8 3.3 30.6 22.8 1.7 1.7 79 62 26 47
Conlon 89 75 16.0 14.0 5.0 6.3 29.0 23.8 2.0 2.0 57 74 19 38
Full Pint 80 78 16.0 14.0 5.0 5.8 19.6 15.3 1.3 1.3 81 84 31 51
Harrington 69 64 15.3 14.0 8.2 8.7 35.8 27.3 4.0 3.0 91 63 28 55
Innovation 106 100 19.0 13.0 5.0 4.8 29.8 25.1 1.0 1.7 36 43 20 39
Klages 92 98 17.0 14.7 4.5 5.2 32.4 25.1 2.7 1.3 96 77 31 54
Lacey 109 100 19.3 14.0 5.0 5.3 32.7 24.8 1.3 1.3 44 39 20 41
ND Genesis 94 86 18.3 14.0 4.7 6.3 28.5 24.6 1.0 1.0 62 67 21 43
ND22421 114 118 20.3 13.7 4.5 5.3 29.2 24.1 1.0 1.0 48 35 21 41
Newdale 105 82 15.7 14.0 5.5 4.3 27.7 21.4 1.7 1.0 59 73 26 51
Pinnacle 86 84 18.3 14.3 7.7 7.3 32.1 24.8 2.7 2.3 75 58 21 44
Quest 101 103 18.7 14.0 4.0 3.7 35.6 29.1 1.7 2.7 55 48 21 42
Robust 105 103 18.7 14.0 4.2 3.5 34.4 29.0 1.7 2.0 39 41 21 43
Scarlett 74 58 16.3 14.0 6.8 8.0 27.2 22.6 2.3 4.3 78 75 31 47
Tradition 93 101 20.0 13.7 5.3 5.7 31.4 27.0 1.0 1.0 45 37 21 41
Site average 96 91 17.1 14.0 5.2 5.3 30.8 24.5 2.1 1.8 66 60
LSD (0.05) 16 16 1.4 0.6 2.4 2.3 3.0 2.1 1.2 1.1 19 16 25 46

† Yield at 13.5% moisture.
‡ Measured at time of harvest.
Scored visually using a scale from 1 = no disease pressure to 9 = high disease pressure. Scored on June 22 in Old Town and Aug 11 in Presque Isle.
# Scored visually using a scale from 1 = no stem breakage to 9 = severe stem breakage.

Table 3. Barley grain quality parameters in Old Town and Presque Isle in 2015.

Test Wt. TKW† DON‡ Protein Plump Kernels§ Color RVA§#
(lbs/bu) (g) (ppm) (%) (%) (L-value) (stirring number)
Variety Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle Old Town Presque Isle
AAC Synergy 49 49 49.0 50.7 0.1 0.1 8.2 9.8 98 98 50 51 77 3
AC Metcalfe 52 50 46.7 48.7 0.0 0.1 8.7 10.6 95 97 51 51 164 3
Bentley 51 49 50.3 51.7 0.0 0.2 8.7 9.6 98 98 52 51 162 4
CDC Copeland 51 47 46.3 47.0 0.0 0.1 8.4 9.6 96 98 52 51 114 3
CDC Meredith 49 48 47.0 48.3 0.0 0.2 7.9 9.5 95 98 50 50 92 4
Cerveza 49 47 46.3 48.3 0.0 0.2 8.5 9.7 94 96 51 51 81 2
Conlon 52 50 55.0 55.7 0.0 0.0 10.1 11.8 99 99 52 51 104 34
Full Pint 50 48 46.7 50.3 0.0 0.2 9.5 11.1 87 98 50 51 149 2
Harrington 49 48 38.0 38.0 0.0 0.2 9.7 11.1 62 77 49 50 178 82
Innovation 49 49 45.3 44.7 0.0 0.3 9.9 11.9 99 98 51 51 162 6
Klages 50 50 44.0 46.7 0.0 0.0 8.8 10.5 85 94 51 51 178 8
Lacey 50 49 44.3 43.7 0.0 0.2 10.3 10.9 98 97 51 50 157 47
ND Genesis 50 50 51.0 49.7 0.0 0.1 8.7 9.6 89 98 50 51 147 6
ND22421 47 49 44.7 44.7 0.0 1.0 9.7 11.2 99 98 51 52 106 44
Newdale 51 47 46.0 46.0 0.0 0.2 8.7 10.1 95 97 51 50 127 4
Pinnacle 49 50 53.0 53.0 0.0 0.0 8.0 9.4 90 98 50 50 165 48
Quest 49 49 40.0 40.3 0.0 0.1 9.9 11.3 91 93 51 51 176 121
Robust 50 50 43.0 44.0 0.0 0.4 9.9 11.6 96 97 51 50 179 128
Scarlett 47 46 39.0 39.3 0.0 0.1 8.4 11.1 91 92 49 50 118 24
Tradition 48 50 43.0 43.7 0.0 0.1 9.6 11.5 97 98 51 52 159 150
Site average 50 49 45.9 46.7 0.0 0.2 9.1 10.6 93 96 51 51 140 36
LSD (0.05) 1.8 1.8 2.6 2.5

† TKW = Thousand kernel weight.
‡ DON = Deoxynivalenol, a mycotoxin caused by Fusarium head blight.
Kernel plumpness is measured as the percentage of barley kernels that remain on the top of a 6/64” by 3/4” slotted sieve after shaking.
# RVA = Rapid Visco-Analyzer, which measures damage from pre-harvest sprouting. A stirring number less than 120 indicates grain with sprout damage. The lower the number the higher the levels of damage from pre-harvest sprouting.

Viability of Integrating Field Peas into Organic Cereal Grain Rotations in Maine

Jake Dyer, Benedicta Grain Co.


As a rotation with organic grains, dry field peas have the potential to provide many of the same benefits that clover offers and generate revenue by producing an organic protein feed for livestock. We looked at whether field peas could be grown successfully in Maine. In 2015 4 varieties of yellow field peas (AC Agassiz, Jetset, SW Midas, and Nette 2010) were trialed over 20 acres in Benedicta, Maine. It was found that all varieties performed well with yields ranging from 3000-4100 pounds per acre. Disease and weed pressure were of concern going into this project, but were not major challenges. All varieties lodged just prior to harvest but were still able to be directly combined without swathing. Results from both this project and variety trials in 2014 show that field peas can be successfully grown in Maine.


In order for Maine growers to successfully supply the demand for organic grains, they will need to investigate rotation strategies that utilize alternative crops that are able to generate revenue, minimize production and capital equipment costs, break weed and disease cycles, and limit soil erosion. Demand for local and organically produced cereal grains has been very strong for the past few years. Common crop rotations used in organic grain systems rely on legume cover crops such as clover to provide fertility, break pest cycles, and reduce soil erosion. Clover has many benefits, but it also requires a full growing season to capitalize on them. Dry field peas have the potential to provide many of the same benefits that clover offers and generate revenue. Are field peas able to be grown successfully in the Northeast? There is limited information available to growers to answer this question. Research efforts by the University of Maine have shown yield potential in small plot trials, but have also raised concerns over disease, weed pressure, and difficulty in harvesting. Growers need field scale evidence to determine if field peas could be a good fit on their farms and if peas can perform well across a variety of soil types and conditions. They also need access to this information and an opportunity to hear and see it firsthand.

The introduction of a pulse crop such as field peas would provide similar ecological benefits as clover to the cropping system as well as the ability to generate revenue and use current cereal grain equipment. Field peas are a cash crop with a potentially diverse marketing portfolio. Peas are a legume and require significantly less nitrogen fertility than a cereal, and would be effective in breaking some cereal disease cycles. If the stand can be developed quickly and early, the dense canopy field peas produce could compete very well with weeds.  Peas harvested in mid-late August or early September would allow the planting of a winter cash or cover crop. The decomposition of pea biomass would also provide nitrogen fertility to the subsequent cash or cover crop.

Growing organic field peas as a monocrop on a large scale in Maine’s humid and often wet climate poses many potential risks. Field peas are primarily produced in the more arid regions of the Unites States and Canada such as Washington, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. However, results from a 2014 field pea variety trial at the University of Maine’s Rogers Farm suggested that field peas can be grown in Maine with attractive yields of up to 4500 pounds per acre.  This variety trial also highlighted that disease and crop lodging could be significant risks.

Markets for field peas exist in Maine. If it can be determined that field peas are a viable option in organic cereal rotations, it will be beneficial to both organic grain and livestock producers. Field peas are an excellent source of minimally process protein for livestock. Field peas contain approximately 21-25 percent protein and 5 to 20 percent less trypsin inhibitors than soybean allowing them to be directly fed to livestock (Schatz, B. and G. Edres. 2009.  Field Pea Production. North Dakota State Extension Service bulletin A-1166.)

Objectives/Performance Targets

 The objective of this project is two-fold:

  • Determine if field peas can be successfully grown in organic cereal grain rotations in Maine.
  • Use trial results such as yield, disease incidence, weed pressure, and standability to determine if certain varieties of yellow field peas perform better in Maine’s climate.


This trial was conducted in Benedicta, ME in 2015 to assess the yield, disease incidence, weed pressure, and standability of four yellow cotyledon, determinate, semi-leafless field pea varieties (Table 1). The experimental design was a randomized complete block with three replications. The field was planted in North to South orientation.

Pea seed was sourced from 2 North Dakota based companies, Pulse USA, Inc. and Meridian Seeds, LLC. Seed of all varieties was certified through the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association and was of certified class. Information taken from company sale sheets indicated that all four varieties were similar in resistance to lodging, resistance to powdery mildew, moderate susceptibility to fusarium wilt, and susceptibility to mycospherella. Varieties differed slightly in maturity.

Table 1. Characteristics of 4 yellow field pea varieties

Variety Seed Source Maturity Seeds/Pound Germination
AC Agassiz Meridian Seeds Med – Late 1953 84%
Jetset Meridian Seeds Med 1830 92%
SW Midas Pulse USA Early – Med 2168 94%
Nette 2010 Pulse USA Early – Med 1930 97%

The host field was 20 acres in size.  Soil was Thorndike shaly loam with a pH of 6.2. The previous crop was spring barley with a winter killed tillage radish cover crop. The seed bed was prepared using a disk harrow and seed bed conditioner. Peas were planted on May 15 and 16 with a Great Plains 1500 grain drill in 6 inch rows. Each plot was 60’ wide by 1293’ long. The target population was 392,040 plants per acre (9 plants per square foot).  The population was adjusted to 348,480 plants per acre (8 plants per square foot) to avoid running out of seed (See Table 2 for trial management details).  The formula used to calculate the seeding rate was:

Target Population / (1-% loss)
Seeds/# (Germination %)

Peas were inoculated using the OMRI approved, peat based N-Dure from Verdesian Life Sciences, U.S., LLC. The active bacterium, Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viceae, is specific to peas, lentils, and vetch. Seed was inoculated at a rate of 5.36 ounces per 50 pounds of seed.

Table 2. Management details for the field pea variety trial conducted at Qualey Farms, Inc. in Benedicta, Maine in 2015.

Soil Type Thorndike shaly loam
Soil pH 6.2
Previous Crop Spring barley and winter killed tillage radish
Varieties 4
Replications 3
Plot Size 60’ x 1293’ (1.78 acres)
Planting Equipment Great Plains 1500 grain drill
Planting Rate (seeds/a) 348,480
Row width (in.) 6”
Planting Date May 15 and May 16, 2015
Cultivation Date May 25, 2015
Harvest Date August 30, 2015

The fungus white mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) was a major disease concern. In an attempt to quantify the presence of the disease in the field, soil samples were taken from each block plus a composite sample was taken and sent to Dr. Jay Hao at the plant pathology laboratory at the University of Maine for analysis. The samples were processed and no sclerotia (overwintering structures of the fungus) were found. It was decided that no control measures for white mold were necessary.

Peas were cultivated at spike stage with a rotary hoe approximately 9-10 days after planting (DAP). Pea vines were measured on June 30 and again on July 25.  Disease incidence and weed pressure were also noted and visually ranked at these times (Table 3). Peas were harvested on August 30 (106-107 DAP) using a John Deere 9500 combine with 920F flex header.  Seed yields were measured using Massload™ portable weighpads and seed moisture was measured using a Dickey-john M3G™ moisture meter.

Outcomes and Impacts

The growing season of 2015 was favorable for dry pea production in Maine. Weather conditions in May were relatively warm and dry and were conducive to early planting, rapid emergence, and timely weed cultivation. June was cool and damp and provided nearly ideal conditions for vegetative growth.  By June 30, heights ranged from 17 inches to 22 inches (Table 3).  Flowering of all varieties began around July 8 and ended on July 18. By July 25, heights ranged from 31 inches to 42 inches and all pods were bulking seed. Peas began to yellow and die back beginning on August 9. By August 19, seed moisture was approximately 16%-18% and all varieties were brown and close to ripe. A rain and wind event on August 27 caused a major portion (75-85%) of the field to lodge. Lodging severity was similar across all varieties and up until this storm, all varieties were upright.

Disease incidence was low overall and did not have any noticeable negative impact on any of the varieties (Table 3). Crop emergence was uniform in all varieties and seedling mortality due to disease was not observed. No disease symptoms were noted when the field was scouted in June or July. As peas began to dry down, it was difficult to discern whether they were slightly diseased or merely senescing naturally. Powdery mildew (Erysiphe pisi) was noticed on the occasional plant on August 20 and was not variety specific.

The primary weeds present were mayweed chamomile (Anthemis cotula L.) and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum L.). Mayweed chamomile was noted at low concentrations throughout the field.  Wild radish was most prolific in the Southerly end of the field where poor weed control in a 2010 soybean crop allowed heavy weed seed rain. Although it was not measured, it is likely that the pea yields were higher in the areas with fewer weeds. Overall, the use of the stale seedbed technique combined with favorable planting and emergence conditions and post crop emergence weed control appeared to give the peas an advantage over the weeds, with no differences among varieties (Table 3).

Nette 2010 and Jetset varieties were visual standouts throughout the trial.  Although the field observations in Table 3, do not support this statement, there was a noticeable visual difference in color and plant vigor compared to the other varieties throughout the entire growing season.

Table 3. Field Observations

June 30, 2015 July 25, 2015
Variety Height¹ Disease² Weeds³ Height Disease Weeds
AC Agassiz 17 0 3 36 0 3
Jetset 22 0 3 42 0 3
SW Midas 18 0 3 34 0 3
Nette 2010 22 0 3 31 0 3

1Height measured in inches
²Disease scale (0-9) 0 = none noted, 9 = severe
³Weed Pressure scale (0-9) 0 = slight, 9 = severe

Wind and rain caused all varieties to lodge on August 27.  By the August 30 harvest date, vines were brittle and pods had begun to open. To avoid excess crop loss due to shattering, direct cutting was deemed the best method for harvesting. Ground speed during harvest was reduced to approximately 1.5 miles per hour so that the peas could be fed onto the header platform and not pushed over.

Yields were higher than expected with all varieties surpassing 3000 pounds per acre (Table 4).  Yields were measured by harvesting two 20-foot-wide by 1293-foot-long swaths from each treatment.  Total harvested area per treatment was 1.187 acres. Peas from each treatment were transferred into a truck and weighed on portable scales. Moisture content of each variety was measured and yields were corrected to 14% moisture.

Significant difference in yields between varieties was not able to be determined due to the fact that harvest strips could only be taken from blocks B and C. Operator error due to unfamiliarity with the GPS unit caused the initial planter pass in block A to veer off course resulting in non-uniform block dimensions.

Table 4.  Yield data

Variety Harvest Moisture Yield (#/A) Yield @ 14% Bushels/A
AC Agassiz 15.9 3151 3081 51.4
Jetset 13.9 4078 4082 68.0
SW Midas 15.7 3791 3716 61.9
Nette 2010 14.1 4094 4090 68.2

Samples of all pea varieties were taken and sent to Dairy One Forage Testing Laboratory in Ithaca, New York for wet chemistry analysis.  Result show peas to be a quality livestock feed with relatively high protein, high carbohydrates and total digestible nutrients, and low fiber levels.  Results from all varieties were similar.  Quality measures averaged across varieties are shown in Table 5.

Table 5:  Average wet chemistry analysis results (DM basis)

% CP¹ % NFC² % TDN³ %ADF⁴ %NDF⁵
23.9 60.2 79.8 6.9 10.5

¹Crude Protein
²Non Fiber Carbohydrates
³Total Digestible Nutrients
⁴Acid Detergent Fiber
⁵Neutral Detergent Fiber


Field peas were grown successfully in 2015 in Maine using organic production practices. The yields measured in this field-scale trial ranged from 3100 to 4000 pounds per acre and were similar to yields measured in small plot research trials from Maine in 2013 and 2014 and exceeded expectations.

Weather throughout the 2015 growing season was excellent for dry pea production and was a major factor in the overall success of this project. Early season disease concerns were reduced by relatively warm and dry soil conditions in May which allowed for timely planting, rapid crop emergence, and pre and post emergence weed control. Rapid vegetative growth and canopy formation during June resulted in increased weed suppression due to crop competition. Rainfall throughout July and August was sufficient to maintain high yield potential yet not excessive as to favor disease and weed pressure. Dry conditions during late August were favorable for harvesting the peas in a timely manner and allowed for the planting of a fall rye crop.

The addition of field peas to a cereal grain rotation is beneficial from an economic perspective. Field peas are relatively inexpensive to grow and require few crop inputs. Depending on soil test results, little, if any fertilizer will be required and if pH is in the 6 to 7 range, no lime will be necessary. Equipment and storage requirements are identical for both crops. When substituted for clover, field peas increase production acreage and allow capital expenses such as field equipment and storage structures to be spread over a larger land base therefore decreasing cost per acre. Nitrogen released from breakdown of pea residue should be available to a subsequent winter cereal or cover crop.

Management practices of field peas and spring cereal grains are similar. Timing of field preparation, planting, cultivating, harvesting, and drying and storing are virtually the same for both crops.  This can be challenging if weather conditions are not cooperative.

I consider this project a success. If the weather conditions are favorable, field peas fit into organic cereal grain rotations very well. 2014 and 2015 were good growing seasons overall with fairly dry conditions late in the summer. Disease and lodging are still a concern especially in the case of a wet growing season. The results of this project are optimistic and field peas are in the crop plan for the  2016 season at the Benedicta Grain Company.

Potential Contributions

The results of this project show that field peas can be grown successfully as a monocrop in Maine using organic production practices.  Existing grain equipment and infrastructure is sufficient for production.  Timely pea harvest should leave ample time for planting of winter cover crop.

Market development is under way. As peas are not commonly grown in the New England region, many local livestock producers are not familiar with them as a feed. Analysis results from Dairy One show that peas are indeed a quality livestock feed and hopefully their popularity will catch on if producers are willing to try them. Food markets are also being researched.


Results from this project are available by contacting the author at and from the SARE program.

Future Recommendations

This project was a great learning experience. The following suggestions/recommendations may be useful to those considering growing field peas in the future.

  1. Use clean, disease free seed with high germination.
  2. Use 2 – 3 times the recommended rate of inoculant.
  3. Calibrate the planter based on population. Imperative to know seeds per pound, germination, and use liberal value for stand loss.
  4. Plant into warm moist soil to encourage rapid germination and emergence.
  5. Avoid poorly drained fields.
  6. Select fields with low weed pressure and use stale seedbed for pre-plant weed control.
  7. Take representative soil samples to scout for presence of white mold sclerotia.
  8. Harvest as early as possible to avoid lodging and excessive shatter.
  9. Pick the rocks!

Information on this website is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2016

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