The Q&A Archives: Sugar Snap Peas

Question: My edible pod peas reach a height of l2-l8 inches and then begin turning brown from the bottom up before any peas are produced. I have read somewhere about nematodes on the roots. I have pulled up several of the plants and there are some small BB size growths on the roots. Is this the problem and what do I do?

Answer: Peas are legumes, and as such have the unique ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. The little nodes on the roots of your pea plants are nitrogen-fixing sacs. If tilled into the soil they will release nitrogen as they decompose. If your pea plants are dying, check to make sure the soil is fast-draining. Root rot can set in quickly if the soil doesn't drain well. Aphids can spread a virus that will cause the same symptoms. Since peas are cool-season crops, it's also possible the weather has gotten too warm for them. 70F degrees is about all they will tolerate. Try planting again in late summer for a fall crop, or in very early spring for an early summer crop. At this point it's probably best to remove the plants and put them in a hot compost pile (just in case they do have a virus).

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