Longest pea harvest in the world underway in Canterbury

  • 12/02/2020
The pea harvest underway at Barrhill in Canterbury.
The pea harvest underway at Barrhill in Canterbury. Photo credit: Supplied

It's another busy season for New Zealand pea growers, with the harvest in full swing.

Wattie's grows and harvests the largest area of peas in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 38,000 tonnes harvested each year.

It is also the longest pea harvesting season in the world.

The harvesting takes place in Canterbury, due to the ideal climate for growing peas there.

The Maw family has been farming at Barrhill in Canterbury for four generations and has been supplying Wattie's for over 20 years.

Grower Colin Maw said it was important to think of future generations of farmers, and a gap of about seven years was taken between pea crops. 

"This maximises the opportunity for a good yield and the long term health of the soil is taken care of," said Maw

Ag Manager, Greg Noller said peas were just part of a broad rotation of crops including cereals, grass and clovers for grazing and seed production, and vegetable seed crops, thereby improving soil fertility and structure, minimising disease carryover and reducing agricultural chemical residues.

“To choose the best moment for harvest, the peas on each farm are carefully monitored with what's called a "tenderometer," said Noller.

"Several peas are placed inside the tenderometer and squeezed to measure whether they are tender and ready to harvest. This is our guide to the maturity of the pea. Once the correct maturity is achieved, there is a window of 24 hours to harvest." 

"Everyone involved in the harvest works in tight coordination."