Kurt Braunwart, owner operator of Progene LLC, shares Lannoye’s views on the growing role of peas in cocktails. He says plant breeders at Progene LLC have always focused their efforts on developing new varieties of peas and annual forage grains well suited to their use in cocktails.

“This means we don’t release or recommend any pea varieties that could have significant hard seed issues,” Braunwart says. “The last thing we want is for the pea to come back and bite the grower.”

While the hard seed issue is an important one, it isn’t the only determinant of a plant’s value in a cocktail, Braunwart says. Because the intent is to grow as much biomass as possible in as short a time as possible, the preferred seed should have qualities of fast emergence and vigorous growth. And, because planting takes place in late summer or early fall when temperatures are dropping in the evenings, a pea with some cold tolerance is a necessity.

“One of the most promising peas for use in cocktails is a white-flowered intermediate variety called Flex,” he says. “In addition to not being hard-seeded, it emerges rapidly and produces a lot of biomass in a short period of time.”

Braunwart adds that because Flex is an intermediate pea with both winter and spring characteristics, it possesses a cold tolerance that allows it grow up to month longer in the fall than commonly used spring pea varieties.

Growers looking for better cocktail blends based on improved varieties don’t have to restrict their inquiries just to peas, Braunwart adds. “Consider the Everleaf 126 spring oat. It was bred to have high stooling capability,” he says. “This means more biomass per seed especially when planted late summer or early fall.”