The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is reminding Wairarapa home gardeners of the importance of not planting peas this growing season.
The Ministry has placed a 2 year ban on pea growing in a bid to eradicate a significant pest of pea crops – the pea weevil. The ban also applies to sugar snap and snow peas but ornamental sweet peas are a different species and are fine to grow.
Pea weevils lay their eggs in developing peas and the growing larvae feed on the young peas, ruining pea crops, and potentially threatening our valuable fresh and seed pea exports.
Response Incident Controller Fiona Bancroft says if the weevils become established in New Zealand, they’ll also be a nuisance for home gardeners, with a likely need for spraying.
"We believe we can successfully get rid of the weevil, which so far appears to be only in the Wairarapa. These insects need peas to complete their life cycle. Basically, if we have no peas, we’ll have no weevils. They’ll die out."
Ms Bancroft says commercial growers are taking the ban very seriously. It’s important home gardeners do the same.
"Even peas in home gardens will give any weevils in the area sustenance and potentially jeopardise the whole operation.
"We’re asking people to take this seriously for the next 2 years to ensure eradication of this pest. MPI and local pea growers need and appreciate their support."
Local people are also asked to report any sightings of peas growing to MPI on the Freephone 0800 80 99 66. This reporting line is completely anonymous and reports are held in confidence.
MPI is about to plant small areas of peas as traps to draw in any adult weevils that may have survived in the area from last year. If there are no other peas planted in the region, the surviving adult weevils will fly to the trap crops, which will be sprayed with insecticide and destroyed before the crop reaches maturity so the weevils will be killed and safely disposed of.
These areas will be well signposted as being trap crops and there is no need to report these.