Peas, Southern - Care
Irrigation is normally not necessary. Southern peas are renowned for their ability to grow and produce under harsh conditions.Fertilize Southern peas sparingly with 2 to 3 pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row. The fertilizer can be applied seven to 10 days before planting or added in a band 3 to 4 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches from the seed. High fertility (primarily residual nitrogen from previous crops) will produce excessive vine growth with poor seed yields.
Southern peas are ready to be harvested as soon as the pods can be easily shelled. This is normally when the individual seeds begin to swell in the pod but before many pods begin to lighten in color and dry out.
Southern peas vary in maturity dates from around 65 to 125 days. Experience is a good teacher for determining the proper picking time. Some people like to use a few immature pods broken into the pot as “snaps.” Only the youngest and most tender pods should be used in this fashion. Fresh pea pods are very perishable and should be quickly moved to a shady area and spread out to avoid spoilage by heat. The harvested product should be shelled and processed rapidly.
Several insect pests will feed on Southern peas. One of the worst in some parts of the state is the cowpea curculio. This small, black weevil feeds in the early part of the summer on the developing pods and later lays its eggs in the developing seeds of the Southern pea. Aphids can infest pea plantings causing yield loss as well as transmitting virus diseases. Stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs can become severe pests in the late season. Lesser cornstalk borers can devastate a late planting of peas especially during dry weather. This pest feeds by boring into the stems of young seedlings causing stand loss.
Although many diseases affect peas, few are very severe. Fusarium wilt can damage non-resistant varieties as can root-knot nematodes. Fusarium wilt causes extensive yellowing of the foliage with little pod production and eventually death. Sclerotium rolfsii, the causal agent of Southern stem blight, will affect peas, often causing death of individual plants. It can be recognized by the prominent white mold near the base of the plant.