If there is a contest for the shortest time from field to freezer, then south Lincolnshire’s pea growers win the award.
The 30 members of Holbeach Marsh Cooperative Ltd, many of whom farm in that area, can boast that their harvest is frozen within two-and-a-half hours of leaving the field.
In other words, from the time the pea harvester strips the pea pods from the vine in the field until the time the peas come off the freezing belt in the factory should be no more than 150 minutes.
Richard Fitzpatrick, general manager of the farming cooperative, says this year a total of about 3,500 acres will be planted with pea vines, probably producing in the region of 8,000 tonnes of peas at harvest.
Like many growers, pea planting was delayed by the cold weather and so the average harvest start date of June 20 will be pushed back a couple of weeks.
John explains that the cooperative is a historic organisation, starting in the early 60s as a potato cooperative, with peas introduced in the mid-1990s. The cooperative now deals solely in peas.
John explained: “It’s the only way we can do it because harvesting equipment is so expensive at £300-400,000, and we have three in operation and one as a spare.
“An individual grower wouldn’t justify doing it and the other thing is that processors like to deal with as few suppliers as they can.”