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Austrian winter peas have been a commonly used cover crop for many years. The demand for their use has increased and sometimes leads to short-term shortages. They are sometimes not desireable because of their limited winter hardiness. This has led to an interest in the development of newer varieties.
Windham is a new winter pea that was developed in the Northwest as a joint venture between the USDA_ARS and three universities in Idaho, Washington, and Montana. Before being released, Windham was tested at 29 site-years over 8 yr in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, Oregon, central Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Windham is recognized as having improved winter hardiness. Windham has a dwarf growth habit and an upright canopy. Windham had a winter survival of 100% in a 2004 Wyoming trial and in 2004/2006 in the Pacific Northwest. Both years were considered "harsh winters" where less winter hardy entries were killed.
In 2010-11, Windham was evaluated in Central Ohio alongside Austrian winter peas. According to Richard Leslie, who observed the plots on May 12th, 2011, “Windham Winter Peas interseeded in rows with Daikon Radish, survived the winter (as they did in another trial I observed) while Austrian Winter Peas did not. Windham Winter Peas had spring rhizobium nodules on the roots of the spring plants I dug.” (see photos)
Windham Peas shown below was planted in the fall of 2010. Windham
was interseeded in rows with Daikon radish. Photos taken May 12th,
2011, demonstrating Windham's winter survivability.
Austrian winter peas were also sown and did not survive the winter. Note nodule formation.
Field Pea Information Sheet - The University of California - Davis' SAREP Onlne Cover Crop Database page on field peas.
Windham references- Journal of Plant Registrations, Vol. 1, No. 2, September 2007