Q. Can southern peas be grown in the fall as well as in the spring?

A. Generally, yes. However, the best quality and set of southern peas occurs when they mature during relatively warm temperatures. Planting in mid-summer for fall harvest also results in more problems with insects and diseases during the early stages of growth.

Q. What causes my southern peas to grow extremely large vines but fail to set any pods?

A. Although failure to set pods can be caused by a number of things, the most common problem is over fertilization. Southern peas, if over-fertilized, grow large plants but fail to set many, if any, pods. Thrips, an extremely small insect which attacks the blooms of southern peas, can also cause poor pod set.

Q. Can I save seed from this year's blackeye pea crop for next year's garden?

A. Yes. Peas are self-pollinated and seed may be saved for planting in next year's garden.

Q. Why are my pea plants always yellow when they first come up then turn green after plants get larger?

A. Yellow plants early in the season are usually caused by cool or wet soils. As the temperature warms and the soil dries, the plants will usually turn green.

Q. My peas are developing powdery, reddish lesions on the underside of the leaves.

A. This is rust and can be controlled with foliar sprays or dusts of sulfur. Begin applications at the first sign of disease and repeat them on a 7-day interval. Rust on peas and beans is more of a problem in the fall than in the spring.

Q. The foliage of my peas developed an olive green substance on the lower side of the leaf.

A. This is Cercospora leaf spot. It can be controlled with foliar sprays of an approved fungicide. Begin at first sign of the disease and continue at 7- to 14-day intervals as long as weather conditions are favorable for disease development.

Q. My pea plants died rapidly, one plant to another down the row.

A. This is most likely Fusarium wilt. It is a soilborne disease and can best be controlled by rotation.

Q. My southern pea plants were smaller and low yielding last year. I found galls and swellings on the roots.

A. These are root knot nematodes. The pea variety Mississippi Silver resists nematodes and should be used where they are a problem. Root knot is a species of nematode which causes galls or swellings on plant roots. It restricts the uptake of nutrients from the root system to the foliage, resulting in a yellow and stunted plant. Root knot lives in the soil and can survive on a number of weed and vegetable crops. It is best controlled by planting a solid stand (close enough for root systems to overlap) of marigolds three months before the first killing frost of fall and/or planting cereal rye (Elbon) for a winter cover crop. Cereal rye should be shred and tilled into the soil 30 days before planting a spring crop. Rotation and summer fallowing will also reduce nematodes.

Q. My southern peas come up every year looking damaged. The leaves are curled and snarled. What is wrong?

A. The apexes or shoots of the leaves were damaged when they were small by a tiny insect called a thrip. The thrip rasps the tissue of the leaf's growing point causing it to bleed or secrete plant juices. The thrip then feeds on these juices. Most plants recover from this damage. Thrips can be controlled with diazinon or malathion applied at 7- to 10-day intervals. Spraying should begin when plants have just emerged since most damage occurs then.

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