The Yes Peas! team checked in with Russell Corfield, Commercial Director at Aylsham Growers, to find out what he’s been up to this month as we head towards the biggest season of the year…
This June, we’ve been finishing up drilling and sowing our pea seeds for the UK pea harvest, during which Aylsham Growers will harvest some of the 160,000 tonnes we freeze each year in Britain.
Given we had a wet and cold May, we have been later finishing the drilling than usual, but that’s no problem for us. We’re used to being flexible and making sure the conditions are just right for our beloved peas. Every year is different and it’s just part of the job!
Some of the earlier varieties we sowed back in March already have flowers on which shows they are wonderful, healthy plants and they’ll be ready to harvest in July – thanks to the balmy weather we’ve been having this month, the peas are growing very well. They’ve started setting pods, so it’ll only be a couple of weeks and we’ll be good to go.
My days in June are often spent checking the crops to assess our progress and make sure all our pea varieties are on track. I always keep an eye out for aphids and other critters to ensure that the crops are safe from unwanted attention, so they’ll be in perfect condition when they’re ready to harvest.
Because we grow a number of different varieties, I also need to try and predict which of our fields will be ready at the same time so we can organise teams to harvest them at their best. It’s a really important part of the job and involves some guesswork, but over the years I’ve honed the craft!
We’ve also taken delivery of two new machines to help us when harvesting. We rely on machinery for an efficient operation, as most of the nation’s peas go from field to frozen in under two and a half hours so time really is of the essence. The new machines are currently getting fitted out with catwalks and health and safety rails, so it will be a couple of weeks before we can get them out into the field.
As you can tell, there’s not a lot of rest for me at this time of year, between co-ordinating the final drilling and beginning to harvest. There’s certainly a lot to think about it, but come harvest time it makes it all worth it!