2014 Field Pea Variety Trial

Tom Molloy and Ellen Mallory, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

2014 Field Pea Variety Trial (PDF)


“Salamanca” field peas, the tallest variety at 49 inches on July 10.
“Salamanca” field peas, the tallest variety at 49 inches on July 10. Photo by Tom Molloy.

Interest in field peas in Maine stems from the need for viable rotation crops for organic grain production and from increasing demand for organic and non-GMO feed grains for dairy, chicken, and other livestock. Field peas can break small grain disease cycles, are grown with the same production equipment as small grains, and as legumes, fix all of the nitrogen required for the crop.

We conducted two trials, in 2013 and 2014, to assess the feasibility of organic field pea production in Maine. Because field peas are normally grown in more arid climates, there is concern that our humid conditions could exacerbate disease and lodging issues. In addition, field peas are thought to be less competitive with weeds, which under organic production practices could negatively impact yields and cause an increase in the weed seed bank. Our 2013 trial investigated the practice of growing peas in mixes with barley or oats. See a complete summary of this trial.

In 2014, we conducted a variety trial at the University of Maine’s Rogers Farm in Old Town comparing 15 varieties of monocrop field peas (Table 1). All of the varieties were determinate, semi-leafless grain types, meaning they tend to be shorter and have more tendrils then forage type peas, which makes them less susceptible to lodging.

Table 1. Varieties and suppliers for the 2014 field pea variety trial.

Variety Supplier (source) Cotyledon or
seed color
Abarth Pulse USA Yellow
AC Agassiz Meridian seeds (Leo Vojto Glenham SD) Yellow
AC Earlystar Meridian seeds (Canterra Seeds) Yellow
AC Thunderbird Meridian seeds (NDSU) Yellow
Bridger Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
Daytona Meridian seeds (Leo Vojto Glenham SD) Green
DS Admiral Pulse USA Yellow
Jetset Meridian seeds (NDSU) Yellow
Korando Pulse USA Yellow
Mystique Pulse USA Yellow
Navarro Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
Nette Pulse USA Yellow
Salamanca Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
Spider Legume Logic (Great Northern Ag) Yellow
SW Midas Pulse USA Yellow


The previous crop at this site was conventional potatoes and the soil type was Melrose fine sandy loam. The field was harrowed two times prior to planting. No fertility was applied and the peas were inoculated with a pea/lentil inoculant. The varieties were planted on May 9 with an Almaco small-plot cone seeder with 6.5-inch row spacing. The target plant density was 9 plants/ft2 or 390,000 plants/acre. Plots were tine harrowed with a Lely weeder on May 29 when the peas were approximately 4 inches tall, and harvested on August 19 with a Wintersteiger small plot combine.

Results and Discussion


Timely planting, early vigorous growth, and tine weeding may have contributed to the overall excellent level of weed control found within the plots. Background weed pressure was high at this site, with common lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, and hairy galinsoga found in high numbers in the alleyways and plot edges. However, weed biomass in the plots, ranked visually at harvest, was very low for all of the varieties tested.


Diseases are a concern for peas and can cause yield loss at all growth stages. This is particularly true in Maine where average rainfall is much higher than in the arid regions where field peas are typically grown. Few diseases were noted up through flowering with the exception of Rhizoctonia. This disease is a common root rot fungi found in soils and can attack susceptible plants at any growth stage. Small patches were noted at the beginning and throughout flowering, and the disease became more widespread as the plants started to dry down. No differences in Rhizoctonia incidence or severity were noted among the varieties. White mold (Sclerotinia) was found in the plots as the plants started to lodge.

Plant heights and lodging

Plant height, taken on July 10, toward the end of flowering, averaged 46 inches for all varieties (Table 2). None were shorter than 42 inches, which is on the extreme end for these shorter stature varieties and most likely contributed to lodging. Varieties with the most severe lodging included Navarro, Nette, and, Spider, while Bridger, Mystique, and Salamanca showed the least lodging.


Pea grain yields averaged 3517 lb/acre for the trial and ranged from 2706 lbs/acre for Navarre to 4426 lbs/acre for Spider (See Table 2). While there is little historical yield information for dry peas in Maine, yields from these trials compare with with other major dry pea production regions, and with our 2014 results.

Table 2. Days to flowering, flowering duration, plant height, lodging, test weight, and yield of field peas in 2014. Values that are underlined are the largest for that measure, and values that are bolded are not statistically different from the underlined value.

Days to
Abarth 46 14 45 6 61.0 3176
AC Agassiz 48 22 44 6 61.0 3069
AC Earlystar 52 18 46 7 61.6 4300
AC Thunderbird 53 17 43 7 61.9 3001
Bridger 48 11 46 4 61.3 3623
Daytona 53 10 45 8 60.5 3211
DS Admiral 52 10 48 7 61.2 4169
Jetset 52 10 44 7 61.6 3757
Korando 48 11 42 7 62.0 4144
Mystique 52 18 46 3 62.0 3403
Navarro 46 14 47 9 59.9 2706
Nette 48 11 43 9 62.0 3709
Salamanca 52 10 49 4 61.3 3310
Spider 52 10 48 9 61.6 4426
SW Midas 48 11 45 7 61.4 3133
Site average 50 13 46 7 61.3 3517
LSD (0.05) 7 1 1.0 1011

Days after planting
0 = no lodging, 9 = severe lodging
§ Yield at 13.5% moisture


Results from our two years of trials are encouraging for the feasibility of dry pea production in Maine. Overall yields were good to excellent in trials. While diseases were more prevalent in 2014 than in 2013, the impact on yield was limited because the diseases were not widespread until the plants started to dry down. Sites (soil drainage) and weather conditions most likely contributed to differences in disease rates between years. In both years, peas proved to be very competitive with weeds. Lodging occurred in both years and was severe in many of the varieties in 2014. Lodging and ease of harvest continue to be a concern for dry pea production in Maine. In addition, deer damage was widespread in the 2014 trial and should be considered in areas with high populations.

Variety trials will continue in 2015. Four to five varieties will be compared at the University of Maine Aroostook Farm in Presque Isle, the University of Maine Rogers Farm in Old Town, and on an organic farm in Benedicta as part of a SARE Farmer Grant project. At the latter two sites swathing will be investigated as a way to avoid lodging and speed up dry down.