Peas are one of the most popular and versatile vegetables in the USA. They are delicious and nutritious and easy to grow and harvest. Peas are also an excellent crop for improving soil fertility, as they fix nitrogen from the air and enrich the soil for other plants. Whether you want to grow peas for fresh eating, freezing, canning, or drying, this article will guide you through the basics of growing peas in the USA.
Soil Requirements for Growing Peas in the USA
Peas prefer deep, well-drained loam soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Peas do not tolerate waterlogged or overly sandy soils, as they can cause root rot or poor growth. To prepare the soil for peas planting, loosen it to a depth of 12 inches and then mix in about 2 to 4 inches of organic matter like aged manure or compost. It will improve the soil structure, drainage, and fertility. You can also add some pea fertilizer to the soil before planting, such as 5-10-10 or 10-20-20, at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet.
Pea Growing Areas in the USA
Peas can be grown in almost all states of the USA, except for Alaska, where the growing season is too short. However, depending on the climate and soil conditions, some regions are more suitable for peas production than others. The main pea-producing states are Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, where most dry peas are grown for export or processing. These states have cool, moist climates that favor peas’ growth and yield. Minnesota is the top green pea-producing state, followed by Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, and New York. These states have mild summers and fertile soils that allow for multiple harvests of green peas.
Pea Growing Conditions in the USA
Peas are cool-season crops that thrive in temperatures between 55°F and 75°F. They can tolerate light frosts but not extreme heat or cold. For optimal growth, plant peas in early spring when the soil can be easily worked, ideally 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your region. Peas can also be planted in late summer or early fall for a fall or winter harvest, depending on your climate zone. Peas need at least 6 hours of full sun daily to produce well. They also need regular watering, especially during flowering and pod formation. Peas should receive about 1 inch of weekly water from rainfall or irrigation.
Propagation Methods for Peas in the USA
The most common way to grow peas is by using seeds, which can be easily acquired and planted. You can sow pea seeds directly in your garden or plant them indoors. When planting pea seeds, it is recommended to sow them at a depth of 1 to 2 inches and keep them 2 to 3 inches apart. The rows should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. If you want to start your seeds indoors, you can use peat pots or paper cups planted directly into the soil without disturbing the roots. You can sow your seeds about 4 to 6 weeks before your expected planting date outdoors.
Growing Peas in Pots
If you have limited space or want to grow peas on your balcony or patio, you can grow peas in pots or containers. Peas can grow well in pots at least 12 inches deep and wide, with drainage holes at the bottom. You must use a potting mix that is rich in organic matter and has good drainage. You can plant about 6 to 8 pea seeds per pot, spacing them evenly around the edge of the pot. Must support your pea plants as they grow taller, such as stakes, trellises, or cages.
Tips for Growing Peas from Seeds in the USA
Growing peas from seeds is not difficult if you follow some simple tips:
- Choose high-quality seeds that are certified disease-free and suitable for your region.
- Soak your seeds overnight before planting to speed up germination.
- Inoculate your seeds with a rhizobium bacteria that helps peas fix nitrogen from the air and improve their growth.
- Sow your seeds early enough to avoid hot weather that can reduce flowering and pod set.
- Thin out your seedlings to avoid overcrowding and competition for nutrients and water.
- Mulch your soil with straw or grass clippings to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
Growing Peas at Home in the USA
This is a rewarding and fun activity you can do with your family or friends. You can enjoy fresh peas from your garden or preserve them for later use.
Benefits of Growing Peas at Home
- You can save money by growing your peas instead of buying them from the store.
- You can control the quality and safety of your pets by avoiding pesticides and chemicals.
- You can harvest your peas at their peak of freshness and flavor, unlike store-bought peas that may be old or bland.
- You can grow varieties of peas that may not be available in the market, such as heirlooms or specialty peas.
- You can improve your health by eating more peas rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Let’s See The Process of Growing Peas at Home
- Growing Peas at home can be a straightforward process if you reside in the United States. All you require is soil, water, and a little patience. Peas thrive in cooler climates and may not thrive in excessive heat.
- To begin, gather the necessary materials. Obtain Pea seeds from a local garden store or online. Also, if you use a pot with drainage holes, secure some soil and a suitable container.
- Once you have your gardening supplies ready, it’s time to commence. Fill your container with soil and moisten it using a spray bottle or watering can. Proceed to plant your Pea seeds, spacing them approximately an inch apart, and cover them with a layer of soil. Gently press the soil down and water again.
- Select a sunny location for your pot and monitor the soil’s moisture level. Regular watering is essential, but avoid excessive moisture as Peas prefer a damp rather than waterlogged environment. In approximately 6-8 weeks, your Peas should be ready for harvesting.
Green Pea Growing Season in the USA
The green pea growing season in the USA varies depending on the location and climate. Generally, green peas are planted in early spring and harvested in late spring or early summer. The green pea growing season can last 50 to 70 days, depending on the variety and weather conditions. Some early-maturing varieties can be harvested in as little as 40 days, while some late-maturing varieties can take up to 90 days. To extend the green pea growing season, planting new crops every 2 to 3 weeks is recommended until the weather conditions become unfavorable due to extreme heat or cold.
Support Systems for Pea Plants
Pea plants need some support to grow upright and prevent their pods from touching the ground and rotting. There are different types of support systems that you can use for your pea plants, such as:
- Stakes: You can use wooden or metal stakes about 4 to 6 feet tall and insert them into the soil next to your pea plants. You can tie your pea plants to the stakes with twine or string as they grow taller.
- Trellises: Use wire or wooden trellises about 4 to 6 feet tall and place them along your pea rows. You can train your pea plants to climb the trellises by weaving their tendrils around the wires or slats.
- Cages: Use wire or plastic cages about 3 to 4 feet tall and place them over your pea plants. You can secure the cages to the ground with stakes or pins. The cages will support your pea plants from all sides and allow them to grow freely.
Pea Varieties Suitable for the USA
There are many varieties of peas that you can grow in the USA, depending on your preference and purpose. Peas are classified into three main types: shelling, snap, and snow peas.
- Shelling peas: These traditional peas have round and smooth seeds inside a tough pod. The seeds are shelled out and eaten fresh or cooked while the pods are discarded. Some examples of shelling peas are Green Arrow, Lincoln, Little Marvel, and Wando.
- Snap peas: These are also known as sugar snap peas or edible podded peas. They have crisp and sweet pods that contain plump and tender seeds. Both the pods and seeds are eaten fresh or cooked. Some examples of snap peas are Sugar Ann, Sugar Snap, Super Sugar Snap, and Cascadia.
- Snow peas: These are also known as Chinese pea pods or mangetout. They have flat and thin pods that contain small and undeveloped seeds. The pods and seeds are eaten fresh or cooked, usually in stir-fries or salads. Some examples of snow peas are Oregon Sugar Pod II, Mammoth Melting Sugar, Dwarf Grey Sugar, and Snowbird.
Fertilizer Requirements for Growing Peas in the USA
Peas do not need much fertilizer, as they can fix their nitrogen from the air with the help of Rhizobium bacteria. However, they may benefit from phosphorus and potassium fertilizers to boost their root development and pod production. You can apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 at planting time at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet. You can also side-dress your pea plants with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 when they start flowering, at a rate of 1 pound per 100 feet of row.
In case You Missed it: Essential Nutrients For Plants: A Comprehensive Guide
Watering Needs for Peas
Peas need regular watering to grow well and produce high-quality pods. Peas should receive about 1 inch of weekly water from rainfall or irrigation. You can use a rain gauge or a soil moisture meter to check how much water your peas receive. You should water your peas profoundly and infrequently rather than shallowly and frequently. It will encourage deep-root growth and prevent water stress. It would help if you watered your peas early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid evaporation and fungal diseases. You should avoid wetting the foliage or pods when watering, as this can cause mold or rot.
Common Problems in Growing Peas in the USA
Peas are generally easy to grow, but they may encounter problems like pests, diseases, or environmental stress. Here are some common issues in growing peas in the USA and how to fix them:
These are tiny insects that suck the sap from plants and may transmit viruses. They cause the leaves to curl under and become deformed and yellowish. They also leave behind sticky honeydew that attracts ants and fungal diseases. You can spray away aphids with water or use insecticidal soap. You can also attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings that eat aphids1.
These are gray grubs that can be found curled under the soil. They chew stems, roots, and leaves and may cut off the plants near the soil level. You can place a 3-inch paper collar around the stem of the plant to prevent them from reaching it. You can also keep the garden free of weeds and sprinkle wood ash around the base of the plants1.
This fungal disease causes the seeds to rot or the seedlings to collapse with dark water-soaked stems as soon as they emerge. It occurs when the soil is too cold, moist, or compacted. You can prevent damping by planting in well-drained soil, avoiding overwatering, and rotating crops. You can also use fungicide-treated seeds or apply a fungicide to the soil before planting12.
This is another fungal disease that causes plants to wilt and die. It infects the plant’s vascular system and blocks the water and nutrient flow. Warm and dry conditions favor it. You can avoid fusarium wilt by planting resistant varieties, rotating crops, and removing infected plants31.
This specific type of aphid feeds on pea plants. It is small, green, and has long antennae and legs. It causes stunted growth, reduced yield, and distorted pods. Aphids also transmit viral diseases such as the pea enation mosaic virus. You can control pea aphids by spraying with water or insecticidal soap or by releasing parasitic wasps or ladybugs that prey on them12.
This is a small fly that lays eggs on the leaves of pea plants. The larvae tunnel inside the leaves and create trails and tunnels. It reduces photosynthesis and weakens the plant. You can prevent pea leafminer by covering your crops with floating row covers or destroying infected leaves. You can also cultivate the garden to kill larvae and keep adult flies from laying eggs1.
This small brown beetle feeds on pea seeds. It lays eggs inside the pods, and the larvae eat the seeds from inside. It reduces the germination and quality of seeds. You can prevent pea weevil by planting early or late in the season, rotating crops, and removing crop residues. You can also use pheromone traps or insecticides to control them12.
This fungal disease causes white powdery spots on the leaves, stems, and pods of pea plants. It reduces photosynthesis and pod quality. Humid and shady conditions favor it. You can prevent powdery mildew by planting in sunny and well-ventilated areas, avoiding overhead watering, and pruning excess foliage. You can also use fungicides or baking soda spray to treat infected plants12.
These are tiny arachnids that suck plant juices and cause stippling on the leaves. They also spin webs on the undersides of leaves and between vines. They reduce plant vigor and yield. Hot and dry conditions favor them. You can control spider mites by spraying with water, insecticidal soap, or rotenone. You can also attract predatory mites or ladybugs that eat them1.
Tips for Harvesting Peas
Peas are ready to harvest when they reach their desired size and stage of maturity, depending on the type of peas you are growing.
- Shelling peas: Harvest shelling peas when the pods are plump and full but still green and tender. Do not wait until they turn yellow or harden; they will lose their flavor and sweetness.
- Snap peas: Harvest snap peas when the pods are crisp and snap easily but before the seeds become too large or starchy.
- Snow peas: Harvest snow peas when the pods are flat and thin before the seeds swell.
To harvest peas, gently pull or twist the pods from the vines or use scissors or pruners to cut them off. Harvest peas regularly to encourage more production and prevent over-maturity. Harvest peas in the morning or evening when they are cool and crisp. Eat, freeze, can, or dry your peas as soon as possible after harvesting, as they will lose their quality quickly.
Peas are an excellent crop to grow in the USA, as they offer many benefits for your health, garden, and palate. It is easy to grow and harvest if you provide the right conditions and care. Peas are versatile and delicious; you can enjoy them fresh or preserved in many ways. Peas are a great addition to any vegetable garden, so why not try them?
I am Gaushoul Agam
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I am an experienced Horticulture Officer in the Department of Agricultural Extension in Bangladesh. I am committed to improving agriculture and farming.
I created ToAgriculture to address global food safety concerns. These concerns are caused by a growing population, diminishing farmland, and the impact of climate change on agriculture. I assist readers in learning modern farming techniques.
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