Snow Pea Machinery and Equipment Guide

Machinery and equipment required for snow pea production will vary by a grower’s preferred production method and operation size. The following discussion shares basic machinery and equipment needs for snow pea production. Depending on a grower’s operation size, expertise and previous machinery investments, the grower must determine whether to purchase and operate the equipment, engage a custom service provider or possibly rent and operate the necessary equipment.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

Good site preparation is critical for snow pea production. Without a well-prepared seedbed, snow peas are susceptible to germination, stands and maturity that are uneven. During site preparation, machinery operations should prepare the soil to a 6- to 7-inch depth. Roots can grow well when soil is worked to that extent. Snow pea producers may use a plow and harrow to prepare the planting site. Adding a cultipacker to the machinery operations would create a firm seedbed for planting.

Instead of planting snow peas in a typical field setting, operations may choose to create raised beds. The raised planting area would support drainage and minimize compaction from presenting a problem. Operations that construct raised beds should space beds 1 foot apart. The 1-foot aisles would allow workers to easily walk between beds.

Through a broadcast application, operators may add preplant fertilizer based on soil test results. Disking should follow the broadcast application to incorporate fertilizer into the planting area. Operations may choose a banded fertilizer application at planting as another option, except potassium shouldn’t be banded to avoid injuring seeds, or they may add fertilizer as they drill seed.

Depending on the seed, a drill or planter may work for planting. To ensure good seed-to-soil contact, firm the soil in rows with a press wheel drill or seeder.

During the growing season, water, weed, pest and disease management are needs. If pea producers choose to install irrigation systems to supply sufficient moisture, then drip irrigation or overhead irrigation are options. With respect to weed control, mechanical cultivation that follows snow pea emergence is one option. This early control can minimize the yield-limiting effects of weed pressure. Other weed control options include planting a cover crop, laying plastic mulch, applying herbicides or removing weeds by hand or with a hoe. Several insects and diseases may have yield-damaging effects on snow peas. Operations may spray insecticides and fungicides to control pests and diseases.

Operations may choose to harvest snow peas by hand or machine. Note, however, that harvesting snow peas using mechanization has had somewhat little success. Employing workers to harvest snow peas by hand can be expensive. Harvesting snow peas by hand can also take significant time. Note that frequent harvests — perhaps as often as every other day — are necessary. Otherwise, producers risk that seeds become too large, and pods become tough.

To cool and store snow peas after harvest, operations have multiple options. A forced air cooling system has a key advantage. It prevents surface moisture from developing. Hydrocooling is an option if the system can retain the appropriate temperature — 32 degrees F to 34 degrees F — and buyers are nearby.

Equipment and Machinery Needs for Snow Pea Production









Broadcast spreader




Drill or planter




Cold storage



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