Life Lesson No. 9 – Pea Pickin’

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly cut peas.  It’s comparable to the smell of fresh cut grass or even alfalfa, but it’s 1,000 times better! It’s delightful. Last night, Braden brought home a cooler full of freshly picked peas from the 55 acre field Ron commercially grows for Del Monte.

After supper we delivered some peas to friends and family and on our way into town, we stopped by the field to watch the pickers.  They look like giant spaceships with all of their flashing lights and move at a fast pace through the field.  They don’t waste any time moving from field to field because when the peas are ready to be picked, you have a short window to get them out of the field and to the production station where they are cleaned, processed and packaged or canned. This is where my knowledge of production peas ends and Braden’s knowledge begins…so I interviewed him farm broadcaster style last night so I could share this with you.  Here is what he shared with me…

Some of the peas Braden brought home! They were excellent!

Some of the peas Braden brought home!                They were excellent!

Peas are usually, weather permitting, the first crop that is planted on the farm with a drill or an air seeder. They can be planted anywhere from March 15 – April 15.  On March 15 of this year, there was still quite a bit of frost in the ground and snow on top of the ground.  So, Ron’s peas went in around the beginning of April and were picked this week.  Now that the peas have been harvested, Braden will go in, work the ground and get it ready to plant commercial soybeans.

Mature Pea Plants About to be Picked!

Del Monte and Seneca both have field offices and field operation managers that work with the farmers in our area to determine what type of peas will be grown, when they will be planted, sprayed, and harvested. Because peas are a specialty crop contract, they have to be grown on irrigated ground, taking the risk of lack of precipitation out of the equation.


The pickers are brought in from Mendota, IL which is about 2 hours away from Manito.

Pea Pickers making their way through Ron's field!

Pea Pickers making their way through Ron’s field!

An added to benefit to peas being grown on irrigated ground is the ability to spoon feed nitrogen to the growing plants during its life cycle. Braden says they apply nitrogen when the plants are 4” – 5” tall and then again when they are blooming. The size and density of the pea determine when they are ready to be picked. The pea plant gets to be anywhere from 15”-18” tall. The custom harvesters actually shell the peas as they harvest them which I think it cool. Could you imagine having to hand shell 55 acres of peas? That’s a lot of pea pods!

In my opinion, the best part about growing peas commercially is…

Like my fine china?

Like my fine china? Dixie makes a very durable paper plate and they always have the best designs!

Freshly picked peas, blanched in butter, salt and pepper and served for dinner! Yum!

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  1. I LOVE peas! Thanks Deanna for the article. Peas grow all around us in Mason county but I don’t think I’ve ever been there during harvest to experience that smell. Its now on my bucket list.

  2. This is so great! Now I want peas…

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