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Desiccate Field Peas for Best Harvest, Seed

12 November 2010

AUSTRALIA - More favourable seasonal conditions require different harvest management of field peas this year, after the hot dry years have naturally desiccated crops.

"Proper harvest management of this year's crop will ensure good quality seed and maximum seed in the bin for growers," said cereal farming systems acting technical specialist, Peter Matthews for Industry & Investment NSW (I&I NSW).

"Desiccation advances crop dry down by up to 10 days and provides an opportunity to plan the harvest to avoid clashes with cereals and overcome harvester problems with late weed growth.

"Producers need to assess each crop to determine if desiccation will provide financial and/or operational advantages, because in hot dry finishes the crop usually dries down evenly by itself," he said.

Crop desiccation is the chemical termination of plant growth at the stage when all growth functions have been completed.

At this stage, seed size and yield have been set. In field peas, research has shown this occurs when seed moisture content drops to around 30 per cent. To obtain quality seed, harvest timing following desiccation is critical.

"The timing of desiccation can be determined by monitoring the crop and either visibly assessing pod colour and developmental stages or by monitoring seed moisture changes using a moisture meter," Mr Matthews said.

Damage to pea seed during harvest or by grain-handling equipment both on the farm and after it leaves can be greatly reduced if seed moisture content is 14 per cent rather than eight per cent.

Field peas dry very rapidly as they approach 14 per cent seed moisture so it is important to monitor the crop regularly after desiccation.

A number of herbicides can be used to desiccate field peas: diquat and glyphosate are both registered.

Glyphosate should be only used when the grain is not going to be used for seed the following year or sold into the sprouting pea market, as germination and seedling vigour can be affected.

Growers can refer to Pulse Point 5: Desiccation and harvest of field peas on the I&I NSW web site, which outlines what to look for and includes an excellent series of pictures showing pod and seed colour [click here].

TheCropSite News Desk

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