Episode 12

Published on:

29th Aug 2023

Winter Peas with Dr. Steve Van Vleet

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Dr. Steve Van Vleet spent about 18 years as a regional extension specialist for Washington State University, and today is a research agronomist with The McGregor Company. For most of his career, pulses have been an important part of his work, and he joins us to talk about his excitement for the potential of winter peas. We’re not talking about Austrian Winter Peas, which are feed grade peas that are smaller in size and darker in color. We’re talking about food grade winter peas, which have been available for several years in certain growing areas. Steve says the differences are larger size of at least 17 grams, a clear seed coat, and a green or yellow cotyledon. 

“Multiple years, my average yield of my winter peas was 6,000 pounds. That's between all the varieties. Spring pea will range from 2,500 pounds up to 4,500 pounds. But I can get 7,000 or 7,500 pounds off some of the different winter pea varieties. That's the part that makes me super excited..” - Dr. Steve Van Vleet

Steve talks about why he believes this crop is a great option for a lot more growers than are using them currently and some considerations for growing winter peas including seeding depths and timing and pest and disease management. The limiting factor he sees playing a big role in this variety’s success is the access producers have to markets.

“Not are you only helping the soil, helping another crop that you're producing, which makes it better, makes it healthier. But what are you doing when it comes to human health?... If we could market this and people would become educated and say, this is one of the most healthy crops that we can produce and improves human health, soil health, crop health, other crop health. Not just as a rotational crop, but this could be a major crop. That's where I see opportunity.” - Dr. Steve Van Vleet

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Dr. Steve Van Vleet a former regional extension specialist for Washington State University and current research agronomist with The McGregor Company
  • Explore the benefits of the winter pea variety and the potential it offers producers
  • Read more about  “Pea Weevil Management in Winter Peas” in this Washington State University publication

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.