Sweet Peas

Evidence of wild pea consumption by humans date as far back as 9750 BC. Historians believe that the main centre of pea development was middle Asia, including northwest India and Afghanistan. A second area of development lies in the Near East, and a third includes the plateau and mountains of Ethiopia. Wild field peas of related species can still be found in Afghanistan, Iran, and Ethiopia. It is said that the field pea (Pisum sativum, L.) was one of the earliest food crops that man cultivated. They were used as a dried staple during the Middle Ages and it is believed that the Chinese were the first to consider peas a fresh vegetable rather than a dried commodity, and to consume the entire pod. In modern times, peas are are usually boiled or steamed which breaks down the cell walls and makes the taste sweeter and the nutrients more bio-available.

The pea is a green, pod-shaped fruit that requires a relatively cool climate (average 7-24°C) to grow. Optimum yields are attained at average temperatures of 13-21°C. They can not grow in the summer heat of lowland but can thrive in cooler high altitude (1,000m) tropical areas. Usually, the crop reaches maturity about 60days after planting and grow best in slightly acidic, well-drained soils. The most widely cultivated varieties are Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon (snow pea) and Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon ser. cv. (sugar or snap pea).

Cut worms and aphids can be major insect pests of field peas. Diseases can include seed and seedling rots and blights, mycosphaerella blight and powdery mildew. Disease free seed and seed treatment should be used to minimize seed and seedling rots and blights. Crop rotation and use of disease free seed are important for mycosphaerella blight control while powdery mildew can be managed by early seeding and use of resistant varieties.

More information about sweet pea can be found in the Ecological Guide for IPM in Sweet Pea.

For more information about the performance of sweet pea cultivars in relation to agro-ecological conditions, cultivation practices, the occurrence of pests and diseases and timing of the production, search the FAO data base at: http://www.fao.org/hortivar


Click the list below for more crop specific information

  1. General Information: Origin, distribution etc.

  2. Production / Productivity
  3. Sweet pea pests / diseases
  4. Post Harvest: