Freeze Damage to Processing Peas

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist;

We are seeing a few pea fields with freeze damage that occurred on Friday, April 17. The peas injured were starting to grow rapidly and 6-12” in height. Peas normally are very cold hardy and can tolerate freezing temperatures down to the low 20s. Lower temperatures (below 20°F) or a combination of high winds (gusts over 30 mph) and freezing temperatures (below 25°F) can cause damage to pea plants, sometimes killing them to soil level. Peas that are germinating or just cracking the ground will have little damage.

Peas with freeze damage. Note water-soaked appearance on damaged plants.

If pea tops are frozen to the ground level, they will develop new stems from dormant buds below ground. There will be 1-3 new stems that develop. This will be seen within a week after the frost. These stems will develop and flower later than undamaged plants. Generally, freeze damaged peas will yield 5-20% less due to the differences in maturities in the field and having weaker plants.