US: Potato crop rotation research in Maine points to peas

A trial crop of field peas growing in the summer of 2013 at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle.In the search for a third rotation crop for potatoes, trials at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle are showing some promise for field peas, a crop that once had a successful run in the region until the 1970s. Jake Dyer, an organic grain farmer from Benedicta, has been researching alternative crops with the Maine Potato Board as potato growers are looking to improve their soil and find a third viable crop to add to potatoes and grains in their field rotation cycle. In a project that the Maine Potato Board funded, Dyer led a trial last summer, growing plots of chickpeas, lentils and field peas — crops grown in other northern climates. “I thought it could be a good fit for potato-grain cropping systems,” Dyer said of the group of crops known as pulses, plants in the legume family harvested for their dry seed, such as peas, beans, clover and lupine, during a presentation at the recent Maine Potato Conference in Caribou. “It can be grown and produced using existing equipment. Worst case scenario, it is a beneficial cover crop,” he said. More