Pulse School: Avoiding bleaching in peas

With pea and lentil harvest underway, the question on the forefront of many growers’ minds — what is the quality of my crop that’s coming off?

We think about what sort of season and conditions the crop has gone through, and while sometimes you are prepared for the sample you’re looking at, sometimes you aren’t.

In this Pulse School episode, we talk about pulse grading — more specifically, bleaching in green peas, and how to prevent it.

“Bleaching is when a green pea gets that yellow tinge to it,” explains Wes Reid with WA Grain in Innisfail, Alberta. “You are allowed 1/8th of the kernel to be yellowed, and after that it’s considered to be bleached. Bleaching is a discount to your pea price. You start out from 0-3 per cent without a discount, 3.1-5 per cent is your first discount, and then 5.1-10 per cent is your second discount., and basically 10.1-15 per cent is your third discount. Anything over 15 per cent has to be sold into a specialty market, but beyond that anything under that goes into the edible market.”

Bleaching is caused by environmental factors, often while waiting for the crop to be completely dry.

“It’s weathering and rain conditions. Let’s say your peas are sitting at 18 per cent moisture and you are waiting for them to dry down to 16 per cent, where they are considered dry by the grain commission. Once they get to that 16 per cent moisture and it rains, and it goes back above 18 per cent, your peas will start to bleach. It drains the colour from them, because basically you are weakening the pea seed itself and that way it’s allowing the pea seed to change in colour. The sunlight also has a lot to do with that, after the rain,” notes Reid.

Reid says his number one tip for avoiding bleaching is to not let your pea get down below 18 per cent before you harvest it.

“If you have the majority of your peas in the field that are testing 18 moisture, even if there are some wetter ones, you’re better off to start your combining at that time, and put it on aeration or mechanically dry it,” suggests Reid. “Don’t ever let your peas go dry in the field.”

To learn more about preventing bleaching and the discounts associated with it, check out this Pulse School episode filmed at Making the Grading in Olds, Alberta:

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