No Till Notes - “Spring is Coming!”

By Mark Watson, Panhandle No-till Educator

One hundred thirty-five individuals attended the Panhandle No till Partnership’s winter conference to further educate themselves on all aspects of no till crop production. More than 100 producers attended the 2 day conference to gain more knowledge on improving their soil health, conserving our water resource and improving the profitability of their operations. I know I left the conference having enjoyed visiting with producers from around the region and listening to the many provocative speakers who presented at this year’s conference.

Now that old man winter has loosened his grip on our area and the weather is beginning to show signs of spring I am looking forward to another growing season just around the corner. Field pea planting is at the top of the first to do list on our farm. We’ve begun looking over the grain drill to see what needs repaired before we head to the field. It’s always interesting to see everything that needs repaired even though the drill was working fine when we put it away last fall after winter wheat planting.

I thought now would be a good time to take a look at how we plant field peas. There are many producers who have been raising peas for several years now, but also many producers who are planting peas for the first time in our area. I thought this would be a good time to review field pea planting tips before we head to the fields. I would estimate there will be roughly 45,000-50,000 acres of field peas planted in our area this year, so field peas are becoming a more predominate crop in our area.   

I hope everyone who is planting field peas has lined up certified seed for this year. I strongly recommend planting certified seed to ensure good germination of the crop. We also began treating our seed a few years ago and I think seed treatment has improved the plant stands of our field pea crop. 

I recommend planting 350,000-375,000 live seeds per acre on dry land acres and 425,000 on irrigated acres. The most important aspect of a potential good yield is a good plant population. Field peas don’t seem to have the capability of making up for a thin stand. With a good stand of field peas the weed competition is reduced dramatically. A good stand of peas also makes them easier to harvest as the plants tend to hold each other up when ripe.

We plan to plant 375,000 live seeds per acre this year. To determine the pounds per acre this will require we first look at the number of seeds per pound. The seed we purchased this year has 2,100 seeds per pound which I divide into the 375,000 live seeds per acre that I want for a final stand. This gives me 178.5 pounds of seed per acre I have to plant.

I also have to take into consideration the germination rate of the seed which is 93%. In order to achieve my desired population I need to add an additional 7% to my planting rate, which leaves me with roughly 190 lbs. of seed per acre to plant. We also figure we split another 5% of the seed when handling the seed from the tote bags to the tender, into the drill, and then running the seed through the drill so I have to add an additional 5% to the 190 lbs. of seed per acre. This leaves me with a total of 200 lbs. of seed to plant per acre to obtain my desired final plant population of 375,000 plants per acre.

I would really encourage each producer to do these calculations for their seeds per pound, germination rates, and handling damages to determine their final seeding rate in pounds per acre. A good stand of peas is well worth the effort.

We have also learned through the years from planting peas that peas need to be planted 2-2.5 inches deep to insure good stands. The peas need to be in good moisture for germination. Some producers have planted field peas even deeper with good results.

I hope these few tips will help you with establishing a good field pea crop this year. We’ll continue to learn more about field pea production as more producers from around the region produce peas over time. Good luck with your field pea planting and feel free to call me at 308-760-5259 if you have any questions concerning field pea planting.

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