Canada's Dry Pea Industry
Dry peas (Pisum sativum) have the largest production volume of all special crops in Canada. There are several varieties of dry peas grown in Canada including yellow, green, maple, green marrowfat, and Austrian winter peas. The determination of which pea is produced is dependent upon whether the peas are destined for the feed or food market. The yellow pea is the most widely seeded and produced, with approximately 40 varieties registered in Canada, while the newest type, the green marrowfat, has two registered varieties.
Dry peas are a cool season crop with a relatively shallow root system. They are generally as drought tolerant as cereal grains, but cannot tolerate heat stress during flowering. They have performed well in all areas of the Prairies, especially in summers with cool and moist conditions. Peas should not be grown on the same field more than once every four years to avoid the rapid increase of soil-borne and foliar diseases. Dry pea production provides an agronomical sound way of extending and improving crop rotations. The crop following dry peas in the rotation generally yields more than the same crop grown after cereals or oilseeds.
Pulses, including dry peas, are increasingly being used in healthy diets in order to promote general well-being and to reduce the risk of illness. They are low in sodium, high in protein and are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium.
According to the University of Manitoba, dry peas are high in fibre, low in fat and cholesterol free and have been shown to have a positive effect on heart health. Studies have shown that whole pulses (including dry peas) have demonstrated cholesterol and lipid lowering properties.
According to Oregon State University, studies have also reported the positive effects of diets rich in fibre on cardiovascular disease, especially in lowering both total serum and LDL-cholesterol levels. Observational studies have also shown that fibre-rich diets may benefit the management of type-2 diabetes.
Research conducted by the University of Saskatchewan studied the possible link between diets high in fibre and a lowered risk of colon cancer. According to studies by Indiana University and Harvard Medical School, diets high in fibre may have a positive effect on weight loss because they deliver more bulk and less energy.
Oregon State University reports that substituting pulses like dry peas for foods high in fat and carbohydrates is likely to help lower the risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Dry peas are an excellent source of the B vitamin folate which is an essential nutrient. In addition, folate consumption during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and, according to the USDA's Agriculture Research Service, may have positive effects on heart disease and the nervous system. Increasing folate in your diet can also lower the chances of developing colon and cervical cancer, according to researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Alabama.
Flour made from dry peas is gluten free and can benefit people with celiac disease according to the University of Queensland.
For livestock feed, dry peas are a good source of energy and contain amounts of digestible energy comparable to wheat. Feed peas are high in amino acids and lysine, complementing the amino acid profile of canola meal, which is high in methionine and cystine. The amino acids in feed peas are highly digestible by hogs and poultry.
Products and Uses
Food use of dry peas includes canning, split, and whole dry markets, as well as products such as flour, starch, and fibre. These products are then used in baked goods, baking mixes, soup mixes, breakfast cereals, processed meats, health foods, pastas, and purees.
Feed peas are mainly used by the hog industry along with poultry, cattle and other livestock because they are a good source of energy and protein. As a diet for hogs, peas are competitively priced due to their protein quality and amino acids, such as lysine. In addition, dry peas do not have to be heat treated to deactivate anti-nutritional factors.
Dry peas are very economical as a feed ingredient and can act as a substitute for imported corn and soybean meal in western Canada. However, in eastern Manitoba, using dry pea feed is a disadvantage due to lower transportation costs from the U.S mid-west corn and soybean producing areas.
Source: Forecast based on August-July crop year, Market Analysis Division, Strategic Policy Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, September 20, 2006.
Dry Pea Statistics
For the latest market information and analysis available from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, please consult the following publications:
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives