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Gardening Articles: Care :: Pests & Problems

Pesky Pea Problems

by National Gardening Association Editors

The best way to deal with problems is to avoid them in the first place. Here are some suggestions about how to prevent disease and insect problems in your garden before they even begin.

Prevention Steps

  1. Select disease-resistant seed varieties.
  2. Well-drained soil is important in eliminating diseases. If soil tends to be wet, raised beds are the best idea.
  3. Plant in wide rows and use mulch in walkways to prevent raindrops from splashing soilborne disease spores up onto the plants.
  4. Stay out of the garden when plants are wet. The less plants are disturbed when they're wet, the better. It's too easy to spread waterborne bacteria and fungi if you're in the garden when the plants are wet.
  5. Keep the garden area weeded and clean of debris. Rotate your pea crop each year to avoid soilborne diseases. A good rule of thumb is to avoid planting legume crops in the same area three years in a row.
  6. Pull out and burn disease-ridden plants.

Insect Pests

In the North, aphids and pea weevils are the most prevalent insect pests, wheras in the South the primary pest is the cowpea curculio. Blight, fusarium wilt, mosaic virus, powdery mildew and root rot are the most common diseases of peas.

Keep a careful watch over your garden. If problems arise, contact your extension service. Your local extension agent can advise you about how to deal with specific garden problems you may have.

The following guide will help you decide what problems may be bothering your crop.

Bacterial blight is a disease carried on infected seeds. Large, water-soaked spots appear on pea pods and irregular dark spots appear on leaves; cream-colored, shining ooze appears in the center of these spots. To avoid blight, plant certified disease-free seed on well-drained soil. Remove old pea vines and rotate your crops.

Cowpea curculio, a destructive southern pest, eats holes in peas and pods. To control, spray or dust with a registered pesticide.

Pea aphids are pear-shaped, long-legged, soft, green insects only 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. By sucking juices from the leaves and stems, they may cause withering of plants and stunting of crops, thus reducing yields.

Control aphids by gently rubbing them off leaves or spray infested areas with an insecticidal soap. Ladybugs and aphid lions are naturally occurring enemies that may be in your garden.

Pea weevils are microscopic pests that lay their eggs on developing legume seeds, on which the larvae then feed. Infested dry peas will be riddled with holes and small worms within weeks of storage. Reduce weevil problems by planting early and turning the plants under right after harvest. For best storage results, spread dried peas on a cookie sheet and place it in a 175oF oven for one hour. When cool, bag and freeze the peas for a week, then store them at room temperature.

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