Sweet pea, locally known as sitsaro, is primarily grown in the Mt. Province. Sweet peas may also be known as Baguio beans. Approximately 2000 hectares of land is currently growing sweet peas in the Mt. Province.
Like lettuce, broccoli and celery, sweet peas are also considered as a cool season vegetable. However, sweet peas are considered legume crops like sitaw and bitswelas. Cool temperature is important in growing sweet peas, therefore it is ideal to grown them in the highlands.
Growing sweet peas
Sweet peas are planted during the start of the rainy season. Sweet peas get their maximum yield when grown from the month of May through July, October and November. However, sweet peas may be grown all year in highland areas like Baguio. In the lowlands, sweet peas may be grown from November to January when the temperature is low.
It is important that the soil is properly prepared in growing sweet peas. It is also ideal to have a raised seed bed to ensure proper drainage and maximum yield. Also, it is recommended to give sweet peas adequate space for growth.
Organic or non-organic fertilizers may be used to aid the soil’s fertility. Fertilizers may be applied 6.35 cm from the plant and
2.54 cm deep. Application of fertilizers should be done before planting the seeds and when the plant has reached the height of 30 to 35 cm.
Regular watering should be done until the plant is grown. It is important to keep the soil moist especially during the hot and dry seasons. Regular weeding should be done at least until the plant is lush and fully grown. Installation of poles or vegetable cages or mounds is recommended to maximize the yield of sweet peas.
Disease and pest control
Careful attention should be given in growing sweet peas as a number of pests can plague this crop. These include aphids and leafminers.
Aphids are insects that are yellow, green or black in color and may or may not have wings. Aphids cause stunting and abnormal growth of sweet peas.
Leafminers are the most damaging insects to sweet peas. Leafminers have microscopic larvae and causes sweet peas to develop a whitish mold o the leaves which eventually kills the plant. Leafminers develop and live within the leaves of the crop. The feed on the interior tissues of the leaves so that only the thin outer layer of the leaves remain.
Insecticides may be used to control leafminers. However, it is important to carefully choose the chemical that is not damaging to the crop and to read and follow labels carefully. Insecticides that are carried systematically throughout the plant are ideal. Removal of affected parts may also help in controlling the spread of this insect.
Harvest and storage
Sweet peas may be harvested when the pods are full and soft and light green in color. Harvest may be done in seventy to eighty days after planting the seeds. Harvest should be done at sundown or when the temperature is low as high temperature can damage the yield.
Harvesting sweet peas may be done by hand or by use of a sharp knife one at a time. Pods should be cleaned and undesirable pods should be properly disposed.
Proper storage is also important after harvest to keep the crops from being damaged. Baskets or kaings may be used to Store sweet peas for transport. Other well-ventilated storage containers may also be used.
Return on Investment
Using one hectare of land as reference, sweet peas may require approximately Php 53,000 investment for one harvest cycle. This covers costs of labor in preparing the land for planting and farming materials.
Variable costs include labor cost for clearing, equipment rental, labor costs for bedding, planting, weeding, harvesting and packing. Variable costs of materials include seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, vegetable cages, and containers.
Should an hectare of sweet peas yield 5,000 kilos and each kilo is sold at Phpl5.oo, the total income is Php 75,000 and the return on investment is approximately Php6o,000 or 25.45%.