Pea leaves turning white - why?

Jake158(7a)May 26, 2012

OK all you pea guru's. I have some Little Marvel English peas that were doing quite nicely. First time I have tried peas. I leave for 5 days and come back to the leaves turning white. I know we had high wind but I don't think that did it. Is there fungus amount us? Or some other disease?No bugs and plenty of water. I appreciate any thoughts on this. Jake.

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Probably just too much heat. That don't last long once the heat starts.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 2:47PM
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I haven't raised Little Marvel, but Sugar Snaps are prone to powdery mildew this time of the year, although usually that happens after a rainy spell. Heat and wind may have been the culprit. Peas don't like either one.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 4:06PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Peas (of the English, shelling, snow or sugar snap type) are strictly cool-season plants. Here in Oklahoma, the cool season has pretty much ended.

In order for the cool-season peas to perform to their best potential, in this state we have to plant them very early so they have a chance to produce a crop before high temperatures and disease strike them down. Most of us plant peas as early as we can in late winter, once we feel like our soil temps are warm enough for them (at least 45-50 degrees) and our air temps seem unlikely to drop below 25 degrees again for a prolonged period. Then we cross our fingers and hope the heat will not arrive excessively early and shut them down before they can produce a good crop. In a perfect world, you'd want to plant your peas so that they can mature a crop before the high temperatures are regularly exceeding 75 degrees. Here in OK, it is a rare year that the days stay cool enough long enough to satisfy the peas. We often have our pea production halt abruptly when heat arrives.

Once the heat arrives, it often is accompanied by powdery mildew which is a fungus that coats the plants in a white powdery coating. You can treat the plants with any approved fungicide that is labeled for use on peas but, realistically speaking, once the powdery mildew arrives, it generally is too hot as a rule for peas to produce well if at all. Sulfur is one of the recommended fungicides for peas, but I usually don't bother using it because once they have powdery mildew it is too hot for them to produce well anyway.

As Carol said, once the heat arrives, the peas are done. You can try to fight the powdery mildew and the heat, but most of us have learned from experience that once the heat hits the plants, they produce so poorly that it is better to take them out and use the space for a warm-season crop that will produce a good harvest. Some years my sugar snap peas are still looking reasonably good and producing well in mid-June, but most years I'm lucky if they make it through the month of May. I yanked out my peas about3 weeks ago, and probably should have done it a week earlier. By then we'd already had several days with highs in the 90s and the peas were begging to be put out of their misery.

Look at your temperatures and think about the last time you consistently had high temps at 75 degrees or below and you'll see why your peas are so miserable.

If you like the flavor of southern peas (black-eyed peas, purple hull pink eye peas, crowder peas, lady peas, zipper peas or cream peas), then they area a great warm-season replacement crop for cool-season peas. Southern peas love heat and tolerate drought and tend to produce even when the high temps are exceeding 100 degrees.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Thank all of you for the info and advice. As a newby gardener I have a lot to learn. I wish I knew half of what my grandpas knew before they passed. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 2:23PM
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Thank all of you for the info and advice. As a newby gardener I have a lot to learn. I wish I knew half of what my grandpas knew before they passed. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 2:24PM
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