Britain’s annual pea harvest takes place each year from June – August, marking the busiest part of the season for the UK pea industry. Great British Pea Week (6th – 12th July 2020), now in its fifth year, celebrates the UK pea season and champions the industry that works around the clock each summer to deliver frozen peas to the nation.
Great British Pea Week was launched by the Yes Peas! campaign to recognise the industry-wide effort made by experts across the pea vining sector, which produces 2 billion portions of peas for the UK market and beyond each year.
Britain’s Eastern Seaboard boasts a maritime climate which, combined with the soil and planting conditions, is the perfect environment for growing superior quality peas. The East Coast is home to some 700 pea growers and farmers, stretching from Suffolk right up to Dundee.
The harvesting process, which lasts an average eight weeks, is a huge operation which takes place between June through to August, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Harvesting machines, known as pea viners, work in unison to harvest, shell and transport the peas from field to frozen as quickly as possible with the majority in just 150 minutes, ensuring the freshness and nutrients of each pea is locked in.
Russell Corfield, one of the UK’s pea growers, explains: “At this time of year the pea harvester goes for 24 hours a day. There are approximately 700 British pea farmers working around-the-clock looking after 35,000 hectares of pea crops – the equivalent to about 70,000 football pitches. It’s like running a military operation – one day you can be on top of your game and then the weather turns and you’re fighting the battle!
“Now more than ever there has never been a more pressing time to ensure we have a successful harvest and we will be continuing to work hard to fill our supermarket freezers with Great British peas.”
In what is seen as a nationwide effort, seed producers, growers, harvesting machinery companies and freezers up and down the country are working tirelessly to ensure the UK continues to remain the largest producer and consumer of frozen peas in Europe, with Brits eating an average 9,000 peas per person every year.
Coral Russell, Crop Associations Manager at the British Growers Association, which runs the Yes Peas! campaign, explains: “British farmers are proudly recognised for their expertise when it comes to producing high quality peas, with the peas on our plate being the culmination of over four months’ hard work. Britain is 90% self-sufficient in pea production, meaning nearly all peas in supermarket freezers going into your trolley or online order are most likely grown by British farmers on a British farm, resulting in the superior quality and flavour which we know and love.”
For more information about Great British Pea Week or the Yes Peas! campaign, please visit www.peas.org.