Riverland peas hit by severe frost damage

Riverland peas hit by severe frost damage


Cropping
DEVASTATING IMPACT: Field peas at Steve Nitschke's Loxton farm were badly hit by frost this season.

DEVASTATING IMPACT: Field peas at Steve Nitschke's Loxton farm were badly hit by frost this season.

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With substantial crop damage, Riverland pulse growers could be excused for feeling a little pea-ved off.

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With substantial crop damage, Riverland pulse growers could be excused for feeling a little pea-ved off.

Elders Loxton broadacre agronomist Hope Perry said field pea crops in the Riverland were devastated by frosts this season.

“The number, consistency and severity of the frost events caused the devastating damage, leaving the crops unable to recover or re-flower,” she said.

“Modern varieties of field peas seem to flower and set in one flush, which allows it to be drought tolerant but not so much frost tolerant.

“Almost every crop of peas in the area were affected.

“In low lying areas the crops were wiped out, causing the yields to be hit.”

Steve Nitschke, Loxton, sowed 320 hectares of Twilight peas as part of his rotation, but 80 per cent of the crop was damaged by frost, in particular by three severe frosts in late August and early September.

He said some peas were “held back” in growth, while others were impacted during the flowering stage when the temperatures hit minus five degrees. Mr Nitschke said there had been other frosts earlier in the growing season, which had not caused damage.

Farming alongside his wife Lisa and sons Hayden and Arron, Mr Nitschke said the size of the peas were smaller than normal, which had upset the yield.

He said during harvest, some patches of the paddock looked as if they would yield about two tonnes/ha, but were bouncing between zero and 200 kilograms/ha.

“The best patches in the paddock was in the sand and the sides of the hills, not the heavy country where it should be our best crop,” he said.

Mr Nitschke introduced peas into his rotation four years ago in a bid to reduce chemical resistance and control brome grass and ryegrass.

In his first season, it was his best performing commodity, and he has since increased the amount sown each year from 200ha to 320ha. Due to the frost damage, he will store peas on-farm, and sell  them as animal feed.

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