John Dalton, Director
The UK is the largest producer of vining peas for freezing in Europe, growing about 40,000 ha. In 20201, SBP Ltd will grow over 7% of the UK total, establishing 2,830 ha of vining peas through 90 members and 10 rented-land growers. We supply Fuller Foods who act as intermediary between the growers and supermarkets. We are aiming for 12,000 – 13,000 tonnes of product at harvest.
The vining pea crop this year will be made up of 38 different varieties, all of which have traits and characteristics to suit drilling dates and harvest spread. Of this 140 ha will be Petit Pois which command a premium.
Political and environmental pressures have led to the loss of key seed dressings, such as Wakil XL, which protected against soil-borne disease like Damping Off, Downy Mildew and Ascochyta. The impact of the removal of these dressings is that there is more risk at the establishment stage.
To counteract some of the problem, SBP Ltd is extending the growing rotation to one year in seven which will help with Footrot. In addition, we are trialling a special phosphate starter fertiliser which, it is claimed, will give improved rooting, stiffer canopies, higher chlorophyl levels and better pod fill, leading to improved yields.
Drilling will start on our earlier areas of East Lothian and the Wooler plain when soils regularly achieve 6 – 7oC.
The whole sowing programme is a science, balancing geographical areas that need to be sequential, with exact timings, to keep the harvest team occupied throughout the 90 -100 day period to capture complete maturity and good quality Tenderness Ratings.
Richard Byass, SBP Ltd’s Operations Manager, plans extensively over the winter to schedule a complex programme of sowing dates for every member and grower.
The following table gives an approximate guide to the drilling plan which should provide chronological maturity for harvesting, depending on weather of course.
|SBP Sowing Campaign 2021||% sown||Ha|
|Cut off date: June 15th||15%||424.5|
All things being equal, the peas should be ready for vining 90 days from sowing, although 2018 weather conditions pushed this down to 72 days. We will just have to wait and see what the season brings.