Pea (Pisum sativum) cultivar Salt River Pima


This pea variety was first developed by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community a sovereign tribe located in the metropolitan Phoenix area. These sweat peas are best picked for table stock before the pods fill and great for soups when pods reach maturity. This desert plant does well in the fall or spring at elevations of 2,500 feet. It also thrives at elevations of 4,000 feet if harvest or planting is done before the soil temperature falls below 50 °F. 



This is a cool season crop that should be transplanted in the fall or winter in the low desert. The soil should be at least 55 °F before transplanting. Transplants should be planted 6-inches apart and the rows should be 18 inches apart. Grow well in sandy to sandy loam soils enriched with organic amendments; avoid alkaline, high-salt soils. These peas will grow best on a trellis system that is approximately 6 feet tall. Cattle panels or chicken wire works well as a trellis. 



While this variety is very hardy in the low desert it can still fall victim to invertebrates such as aphids, armyworms, cucumber beetles, leafminers, nematodes, pea leaf weevil, pea moth, pea weevil, spider mites and thrips. The pea is susceptible to diseases such as ascochyta blight, basal stem rots, downy mildew, fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, root rot and damping off virus diseases. These diseases can be avoided by using drip irrigation and avoiding overhead irrigation that allows foliage to become saturated



Peas can be harvested in the snap/green stage, the shelling stage, or the dry stage. Snap peas are ready for harvest when the pods are still tender, before the seeds start to swell. Shelling peas are ready when the pods are tender and the seeds are round and plump. Dry peas are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.



Early peas are make great fresh eating while later peas can be shelled and enjoyed in salads,

soups, and stir fries. Snap peas and snow peas are often eaten whole. Dried peas can be cooked like beans and used in soups, stews, and dips. Pea shoots also make a tasty snack.



Blanch and freeze peas if you would like to save your spring flavors for another day; use within

a year. Peas can also be left on the vine to dry. Dry peas will store for several years in a cool, dry place.


Saving Seeds

The pea is an annual crop. When saving seeds from peas, separate varieties by 50 feet. A single pea plant can produce viable seed. However, to maintain a variety’s diversity over time, save seeds from 5-10 plants. Pea seeds are ready for harvest when they are hard and their pods dry out and start to turn brown on the vine and shrink against the seeds. This is about four weeks after the eating stage. If pea pods are not completely dry before the first frost, pull the plants up, root first, and hang them in a cool, dry location until the pods are brown and dry. When the pea pods are completely dry, break them open to release the seeds. Pick the brown pods from the vines and remove the seeds. Separate seeds from the chaff. Seeds will require about six weeks of air-drying. Store peas in cool, dark, and dry places and always keep them in an airtight

container to keep out moisture and humidity. Under these conditions, pea seeds will live 3-4 years.