Growing and harvesting peas is an essential activity for gardeners, farmers, and agricultural scientists. Pea seeds can be harvested from pods that have dried on the pea plants. Once collected, it is important to properly prepare the seeds for storage in order to maximize their viability over time. In this article, we’ll discuss how to harvest pea seeds, how to prepare them for storage, and the conditions needed for optimum seed storage.
When to Harvest Pea Seeds?
In fact, all representatives of legumes have a common and very inconvenient feature for farmers – uneven ripening. First, those located on the lower, then on the upper tiers of plants. Therefore, the optimal harvesting time of this crop is determined taking into account the degree of yellowing of about 70% of beans on the lower and middle tiers. It is on them that the largest selected seeds are formed. The seeds should be collected before they start to crack open on their own or become too dry. If left too long on the vine, the peas may lose some of their germination potentials.
How to Harvest Pea Seeds?
Pea seeds are best harvested once the small pods have dried out on the vine. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to harvest pea seeds:
- Pick the pods when they are brown and dry, using your fingers or scissors to cut them off the vine.
- Place the pods in a container such as a paper bag, bucket, or basket. Dry them further in the sun if necessary before shelling.
- As you shell the seeds, discard any pods that contain discolored seeds or moldy pods.
- Once the peas are completely dry, store them in an airtight container and keep them in a cool and dark spot.
It should also be said about weather conditions. Harvesting peas for seeds must be carried out in dry weather, otherwise, you can get low-quality seeds. The fact is that if there were even light precipitation or morning fog a couple of days before, the pods could be saturated with moisture, and their peas could germinate.
Selection of Pea seeds
The selection of seeds for storage is a crucial step in the process. Inspect every single seed pod, looking for irregularities and discoloration. Discard any pods that appear to be moldy, fungus-ridden, or insect eaten. Keep only those with healthy-looking peas inside. After all, the selected pods have been shelled, spread them out on a sheet in a single layer and allow them to dry out completely.
Seed Preparation for Storage
The main goal of seed preparation is to reduce moisture content and provide an environment that will not be conducive to rotting or fungal growth. To do this, you must first remove any chaff and debris from the peas. This can be done by winnowing them with a fan or hand-picking out pieces of dirt, leaves, and other material.
Once that is complete, you may need to spread the seeds out on newspaper or paper towels and allow them to dry out further. It is important to rotate the pea seeds regularly so that both sides have an opportunity to dry out. The goal is a moisture content of approximately 12–14%, which can be determined with a seed moisture meter.
When drying pea seeds with excessive moisture, it is especially important to monitor the temperature of the coolant and the processing time. At a seed moisture content of 16-19%, the temperature of the heat carrier should not exceed 104 °F. In one pass through the drying chamber, the moisture content of the seeds must not be sharply reduced by more than 4%. Otherwise, it can lead to the cracking of the seed coat.
Terms of Seed Storage
Once you have achieved the desired moisture content, it is important to store the seeds in a dry and ventilated environment. The optimal storage temperature range is between 50°F – 54°F and relative humidity should be kept at 60% or below. When storing them, it is important to not overcrowd the space and allow enough air circulation around them. It is also recommended to date your seeds so that you can monitor their shelf life. Lastly, keep in mind that when stored properly, peas have a maximum longevity of 6 years or more.
The data in the table below shows how germination percentage changes over time, depending on how long the seed is stored.
- 1 year – 89%
- 2 years – 85%
- 3 years – 83%
- 4 years – 83%
- 5 years – 76%
- 6 years – 71%