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Closeup of a open pea pod held in a hand
PEAS FOR FEED? They are part of an experiment that didn’t go quite as planned.

Mother Nature’s intervention forces Plan B

Two Hearts, One Harvest: A wet spring forced changes in the Reskovacs’ new crop experimentation strategy, and the neighbors are watching.

Reskovac Farms has declared 2017 as the year of experimenting. To become more diverse, we’re trying a couple of new crops uncommon to the area — only a few acres this year, but if results are satisfactory …

Mike: At February’s end, I saw an advertisement for pea growers. I knew nothing about peas, but was curious. It just happened to be during Cole’s nap time, so I called for more details. When Sheilah came home from work, I had a whole slew of information for her.

Sheilah: “Peas? You want to grow peas? Like garden peas?”

Mike: “Yeah, peas. No, yellow peas — for feed.”

Sheilah: “Mmm-hmm.”

Mike: “What’s that mean? Don’t you want to know more about the opportunity?”

Sheilah: “Right now, the only peas I want to think about are the ones going into my belly and the one under my mattress.”

I knew you could grow peas as a crop, but I didn’t know of anyone doing it around our area. So I had lots of questions: Do you use a combine to harvest them? Will they even grow here? Where does one sell peas? What’re they worth a bushel? When do you plant and harvest? Do you have to do anything special to them?

Mike: I couldn’t answer all her questions. The grain elevator that had listed the ad was having a pea meeting the next week. Sheilah said I should go if I was really serious.

After the meeting and networking through phone calls, it seemed like it might be a fit, especially if we could harvest early enough to double-crop. 

Sheilah: I worried about not being able to buy crop insurance for them. After talking about it, though, we decided our benefit outweighed risk; we’d give it a try.

Mike: We put out about 50 acres of them. A few neighbors thought I was nuts. Others thought it was interesting. A couple asked who was going to pick them.

Plan didn’t go as expected

Mike: The original plan was to plant soybeans after peas. But with spring being wet and late, they didn’t get planted as early as we wanted. So, the soybean idea was out. I needed a new idea for a short-season crop I could plant after peas.

Sheilah: “Sunflowers? Now you want to plant sunflowers?”

Mike: Once people knew we were growing peas, no one was surprised when I mentioned sunflowers. After an early-morning phone call from Sheilah’s dad, I was encouraged to just make 2017 the year of experiments.

Sheilah: 2017 is only halfway over. It’s hard to tell what Mike’ll come up with next.

Sheilah and Mike Reskovac farm near Uniontown, Pa. Catch their Two Hearts, One Harvest blog at AmericanAgriculturist.com.

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