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Field Peas

Field peas are a pulse crop that is part of the legume family. The word “pulse” comes from the Latin word puls, meaning potage or thick soup. Pulses are the dry edible seeds of pod plants and are high in protein and fibre and low in fat.

The common cultivated field pea is botanically classified as Pisum sativum, white flowered.

Another type, Austrian or maple pea (Pisum sativum spp. arvense) has purple flowers and is grown on a small acreage for special markets. Field peas or “dry peas” are grown and marketed as a dry, shelled product for either human consumption (including fractionation) or livestock feed. Field pea differs from garden pea, which is marketed as a fresh or canned vegetable.

White Flowered Field Pea, Pisum sativum
Figure 1: White Flowered Field Pea, Pisum sativum

Field Pea, Pisum sativum spp. arvense
Figure 2: Field Pea, Pisum sativum spp. arvense

Where do peas grow?
Field peas are a cool season annual plant grown adapted to cool temperate zones such as Western Canada. Field pea is the most widely grown pulse crop in Alberta and is grown in Southern Alberta, Central Alberta, or the Peace River Region. 

In 2019, Alberta’s pulse growers grew 1,685,900 metric tonnes of field peas on 1,743,300 acres with farm cash receipts of $387 Million. Alberta dry pea exports were valued at $508 Million with China accounting for the majority of exports at $294 Million, Bangladesh at $105 Million, followed by India ($30 Million), Cuba ($20 Million), United States ($15 Million), Nepal ($10 Million), as well as Colombia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Philippines and other countries.

(Source:  Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Economics and Competitiveness Branch)

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