Pea farmers hoping for big Far East contracts

Farmer Andrew Putterill and son Oliver with a crop of peas in storage.
Farmer Andrew Putterill and son Oliver with a crop of peas in storage.
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IT’S been a tough year for pea harvesting but three local farms are hoping that an interesting trial for the Far East market will bring some cheer.

Dalmark Grain Ltd, based at Eye, is trialling the production of brown peas on farms in Sutton Bridge, Holbeach and Peterborough.

The peas will be sent to Japan for the production of wasabi – a snack food which, until now, has been used with the more normal green marrowfat pea.

Dalmark director James Wallace said: “Wasabi can be found in places like M&S.

“One of the contracts we have is interested in something new – a different colour.

“They wanted to have a go with some brown peas.

“Some small samples have been sent and hopefully there’s potential for it to take off.”

For Andrew Putterill, of J Putterill and Son in Guy’s Head Road, Sutton Bridge, the project has provided a welcome boost in a difficult year.

He said: “It’s not been a good year for peas. They like a dry, hot summer so it’s been a poor crop.”

Andrew (53), who runs the 800-acre farm with wife Tracey and son Oliver (24) says the yield is well down on the usual two to two-and-a-half tonnes per acre.

But he’s happy with the revenue for the 30 acres of brown peas, which is £25 per tonne more than the £275 for marrowfat.

He said: “The brown peas were drilled in March.

“They coped with the weather better than the marrowfat. They stood up a little better.

“I’m always happy to try something new and I hope this is successful.

“Some chaps from the Far East came to the farm and liked what they saw so I’m hopeful.”

The Sutton Bridge farm is a member of the British Edible Pulse Association and last year was its national champion for a sample of Sakura marrowfat peas.

Andrew also grows potatoes, sugar beet, winter wheat and spring barley.

His other son George (20) will join the farm on completion of his British Sugar studies at Harper Adams University College.