Low crop prices and high production costs over the last few years has many growers exploring the options of new or different crops. One such crop is a variety of yellow field pea, the ESO pea. Its been grown for a couple years on a limited number of acres, but this year growers have planted over 3000 acres in the Pee Dee, mostly in Dillon County.
ESO peas are a winter crop planted in late December through mid January. They are a roughly 113 day crop, so they will be harvested in late April to May, just in time for summer crops to go in. It’s a pretty low maintenance crop with low inputs. Fertility is easy because its a legume and can fix its own nitrogen. Just make sure the pH as well as P and K are at appropriate levels for field peas before planting and they’re good to go. An insecticide and fungicide spray may be needed at bloom some years, though experienced growers say they’ve never had that need.
Most of the nearly two dozen growers trying ESO peas this year planted with a no-till drill on 7.5″ rows. They are treated with an inoculate before planting to ensure they develop plenty of root nodules to help with N fixation. Later in the spring they will be harvested with a small grain header and will go to Schoular. At the end of the day, most folks have the cost of the seed, the inoculate, and planting and harvesting invested in the crop. For any growers looking at all their options, this may be a good one to consider.