Prettier Pea Soup on the Horizon By
Kathryn Barry Stelljes
June 25, 1997
PULLMAN, Wash., June 25--Tomorrow's split pea soups could
be a deeper green or a brighter yellow, thanks to three new dry pea varieties
released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and university
"Farmers will benefit from the larger pea size and better disease
resistance of the new peas. And consumers may appreciate a more colorful bowl
of soup," said Frederick Muehlbauer, a
geneticist here with USDA's Agricultural
Muehlbauer developed the peas, named "Joel," "Fallon" and
"Shawnee." He leads the ARS Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research Unit.
ARS released the new peas in cooperation with Washington State University and
the University of Idaho.
Joel, a green dry pea, resists powdery mildew and has greater
yields and larger seeds than the popular Columbian and Alaska 81 varieties now
grown. "Joel peas retain an attractive dark green color after cooking, which is
important to consumers," Muehlbauer said.
Fallon and Shawnee are yellow dry peas. They have higher yields,
larger seeds and better color than the industry standards Rex, Latah and
Fallon is a semi-dwarf, semi-leafless plant. These traits help the
plants stand upright because the plants are shorter and their extra tendrils
intertwine to hold each other up. Taller, fully leafed varieties are more
susceptible to falling over, known as lodging, in wind or rain. The semi-
leafless trait also improves air circulation around the plant, reducing the
damp conditions under which some diseases thrive, Muehlbauer said.
The Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains states, mostly
Washington and Idaho, produce most of the nation's dry pea crop. In 1996,
farmers grew 190,000 acres worth $26 million. About two-thirds of the peas are
exported to Europe and Central and South America.
Plots of the pea plants will be on display July 10 at the Spillman
Farm Field Day in Pullman.
Researchers can obtain small amounts of seed from Muehlbauer.
Commercial growers should contact the Washington and Idaho state crop
improvement associations for seed. Fallon and Shawnee should be available for
the 1998 growing season, Joel in 1999.
Joel was named after a small town in Idaho. Fallon and Shawnee
were named to commemorate historical railroad sidings in the Palouse region of
Scientific contact: Frederick J. Muehlbauer, Grain Legume
Genetics and Physiology Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, USDA,
Pullman, WA 99164-6421. Phone (509) 335-9521, fax (509) 335-8674.