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Decision to Grow Peas Despite Dad’s Reluctance Worked Out Well for Wheatland County Farmer (PCN Winter 2015) DEC 22 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.

After years of reluctance about growing peas on the family farm in Wheatland County, Jay Schultz knew he needed to plant a crop in the rotation beyond wheat and canola.

He read all of the information he could find, watched pulse school videos, visited websites such as APG’s, as well as calling on his local seed grower and product rep to answer questions. In the end it paid off with a beautiful harvest of 365 acres of yellow peas.

“Overall, it went as well as I could have hoped,” he said. “We will be growing them again and they will be in our rotation long-term. I’ve always been told that if you want to grow peas, it’s a headache. My dad didn’t really want to try it. My dad said if you want to do it, you can do it but you have to figure it out.”

The biggest concern that Schultz and his dad, Ray, had about planting peas was that they would lodge and the combine would pick up rocks.

The week before Schultz planned to harvest at the end of August, three inches of rain poured down with hail on the farm about 100 km east of Calgary International Airport.

“We thought that the peas would be as flat as a pancake, but they were all still standing and just a little shelled out and relatively easy to harvest,” he said. “We were one of the first people combining them. It took about five days to combine. We just used the one combine, but we didn’t realize how slow they would be to combine. I think next year we will use two combines. There was some bad weather in there so a lot of people got caught with very weathered peas that were turning black, but we didn’t get much of that.”

Schultz credits the positive first pea harvest to improved varieties and agronomic practices being available to him.

“For the most part, all of the peas came off before extra rain got on them and everything was put on a truck and went to the elevator – the seed was cleaned as we were combining,” he recalled. “Pretty much all of those peas were gone before we started combining anything else. That’s very handy because you can have more use out of your bins.”

The good experience also helped alter Schultz’s father’s opinion about growing peas.

“My dad did go combine some peas and we had been paid in full by the time we went to combine anything else, so that pretty much changed his mind about peas,” he said. “It’s hard to try something new but ask a lot of questions. It was definitely worth the risk to try something new.”

Schultz said he has a full seed bin and looks forward to doubling the number of acres devoted to peas next year, which will mean 10 per cent of the farm’s acres will be growing peas.

Meanwhile, veteran pea producer Harold Haugen was also pleased overall with his harvest of yellow peas in the Lougheed area.

“Harvest went wonderful, except for the rain and breakdowns,” he said. “The peas all came off in good condition with good yields. But there were some places in Zone 5 that had severe hail damage.”

Haugen added that pulses earned the best income per acre for many producers with the low inputs, and even more so now for anyone who has not sold their production with the yellow pea price climbing during the fall. He said that some producers in his area are planning to increase their pea acres, including those who haven’t grown peas before or haven’t done so for many years. He noted that he is also hearing from producers in his area about their plans to seed faba beans in 2015.

Southern Alberta’s Greg Stamp also reported a good result via Twitter when APG asked what was grown and how harvest went. “Pluto green and Saffron yellow pea, Snowbird, Snowdrop and FB 9-4 faba beans,” he Tweeted. “Excellent dryland pea yields, lots of faba demand.”

Unfortunately, harvest was not as positive for all Alberta pulse producers. Some had their peas affected by root rot, and others experienced severe winter weather before they could harvest.

Daniel Hurt of the Crossfield-CarstairsAirdrie area responded to APG’s Twitter inquiry that “snow flattened Meadow peas were destroying our HB headers so we had to swath ahead of combine which increased rock ingestion” and all 350 acres he grew were snowed on.