PNL Volume 19 1987 FEATURES
DRY PEA PRODUCTION IN CANADA
Slinkard, A. E. Crop Development Centre
Univ. of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Canadian dry yellow pea production has increased markedly in
recent years. Dry pea production is concentrated in the Prairie
Provinces, especially Manitoba and more recently in Saskatchewan.
An average of about 20,000 hectares were devoted to dry peas
during the 20-year period 1949 to 1968, and 29,000 hectares for
the 10-year period 1969 to 1978. Since 1979, an average of 69,000
hectares were grown, with a record 114,000 hectare crop in 1986.
Dry pea production is concentrated in the Black soil zone of
southern Manitoba and central Saskatchewan. This area runs along
the northern and northeastern fringe of the Great Plains where
temperature and wind are reduced, resulting in lower evapotranspi-
ration rates than for the Great Plains in general. A slightly
higher rainfall and lower evapotranspiration rate have resulted in
high organic matter (Black) soils. The soils were derived from
glacial action and have a high clay content with high moisture
holding capacity. Annual precipitation is only about 400 mm, but
peak precipitation occurs in early July during early bloom of the
pea crop. These conditions result in average yields of about 2
tons per hectare, but individual yields have been double that.
Dry pea yields average about the same as spring wheat yields
in this area and whenever the price of dry peas exceeds the price
of wheat by 25% or more, as is currently the situation, farmers
will continue to increase dry pea production in Canada.
At present the major cultivar is 'Century', a large-seeded
cultivar, which is planted at 190 kg per hectare in mid- to late-
May. The crop is usually ready to harvest by September 1, but
inclement weather may delay harvest some years. Fortunately,
Canadian cultivars tolerate considerable cold wet weather and
still produce a food grade product.
Few farmers are equipped with a direct cut attachment on
their combines. Thus, many farmers swath the ripe peas and run
the combine behind the swather.
The major production problems are weed control and • harves-
ting. However, experienced producers rarely have any problem with
Most of the Canadian dry yellow pea crop is exported. A
major portion of the crop (40%) has been exported to Cuba in re-
cent years, except for the 1985 crop. About 4,000 hectares of dry
green peas were grown in I486 and production of this type may in-
crease in the near future.
A small portion of the Canadian dry pea crop is wet-processed
by Woodstone Foods in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, to produce a
bland pea protein concentrate, pea starch, and pea hulls. The pea
protein concentrate is used to a limited extent in human food pre-
parations. The pea starch is used for carbonless carbon paper and
has potential use in the potash industry to precipitate clay from
the potash solution. The pea hulls are used in high fiber bread.
Pea protein concentrate may also be produced by another, dry
process, but the product has a distinct sharp pea flavor which
PNL Volume 19 1987 FEATURES
must be "flashed-off" somehow before it can be used in very many
human food applications.
There are two dry pea breeding programs in Canada, one direc-
ted by Dr. S. T. Ali-Khan, Agriculture Canada, Morden, Manitoba,
and the other by Dr. A. E. Slinkard, Crop Development Centre, Uni-
versity of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The primary
breeding objectives of the Agriculture Canada program are yield,
cooking quality, and resistance to Ascochyta pinodes. At the Crop
Development Centre, the initial (1972) breeding objective was to
increase protein content since the higher the protein concentra-
tion of the seed, the higher the protein concentration in the pea
protein concentrate. However, results of replicated tests showed
that the range of protein concentration was only about 9% (19 to
28%), adapted cultivars averaged about 23%, wrinkle-seeded culti-
vars averaged about 25.5%, and protein concentration was influen-
ced more by environment than by heredity. There was a negative
correlation between seed yield and protein concentration and seed
yield per hectare was found to be the major component of protein
yield per hectare. In addition selection of high protein parent
plants from high protein (usually wrinkle-seeded) lines from USDA
Pea Plant Introductions usually resulted in isolation of pea seed-
borne mosaic virus infected plants for crossing. This was not
detected until the F2 since symptoms were masked under the cool
growing conditions at Saskatoon. All of the above factors com-
bined prompted a change in the breeding objective. Accordingly,
starting in 1975 the sole breeding objective at the Crop Develop-
ment Centre has been yield. In 1976 the first high yield pea cul-
tivar, 'Bellevue', was licensed from this program. It has a 15%
yield advantage over the old standard cultivar Century.