Growing and Production of Sweet Peas or Chicharo

Sweet pea or chicharo, as locally called, is a cool climate annual legume raised for its edible pods and matured seeds.


  • Sugar Pea Oregon – stringless green and flat pod. Best suited to Tropical conditions, heat resistance. Direct sowing.
  • Pea Alderman – Green wrinkled seeded, shelling and climbing pea. Only by dry and cold season, at altitudes higher than 800 m. Direct sowing. Harvest is 100 days after sowing.

Climatic and Soil Requirements

Being a semi-temperate legume, sweet pea thrives best at high elevations in the tropics like the Philippines. However, success production at low to medium elevations has also been reported with the choice of right varieties when planted during the cold months. (November to February) A loamy and loose soil rich in organic matter is ideal for sweet peas. Heavy manuring is done during land preparation to improve fertility, tilth and texture. Wooden ash is also commonly added.

Months of Planting – The season for sweet pea culture is rather broad but distinct. Many growers start drilling the seeds as early as mid-September for the November – December market of green pods and as late as March for late summer and early rainy season produce. High demand for “citzaro” reaches its peak during the Christmas season and in summer (April to May) in Baguio.

Nutritional Requirements – Being a legume, peas are capable of satisfying much of their nitrogen requirement largely through fixation from the air.

Cultural Requirements

Planting and Spacing – There are two methods of planting, the furrow and the plot methods. In Baguio, where there is intensive farming, the lot system of planting is followed. The plot is established one meter wide on which the seeds are drilled 15 cm. apart along 2 rows 35 to 40 cm. apart two to three seeds are drilled in a hole at a depth of about 5 to 7 cm. And covered with fine soil. Approximately 50 to 60 kilos of dried seeds are needed to plant a hectare.

Cultivation and Irrigation – Early cultivation is done as soon as rows of young plants become visible to achieve early control of weed and to provide optimum soil conditions for vigorous growth. Under dry environment, light over-head irrigation at least twice a week is provided over the plots. Irrigation by gravity is resorted to under extensive cultivation of the crop and when the furrow method of planting is adopted. Light flowing at about 2.5 cm. Every week between the furrows provides sufficient moisture for satisfactory growth.

Sticking – This is a must, especially in Baguio where up to the present all existing commercial varieties are viny and tall growing. A local grass called “rono” with a long but sturdy stem is commonly used. The sticks are introduced on the middle of the plot providing a common “trellis” for the rows of the plants. Sticking also facilitates harvesting of the pods. This is done about three weeks after planting or when the plants have already attained a height of 30 to 35 cm.

Fertilizer Application – Aside from the manure needed and applied during land preparation, the required complete fertilizer is applied in band at equal depth with the hill of seeds in between the rows during planting time.

Other Requirements – As the plants develop, they are braced with sticks against the trellis to prevent them from toppling over.

Control of Pests

1. Leaf mine – Phytomyza atricornis Meigen. This is the most destructive and persistent pest of sweet peas in the Baguio area. The larvae are small and they bury through the leaves. Under severe infestation, the leaves appear whitish and papery and in some cases the pest causes the death of the plant.

Control – Early protective spraying of the plants is recommended using Bayrusil and Phosdrin. Weekly spraying with sticker has been proven highly effective against the pest.

2. Cutworm, Prodenia litura (Fabr.) often a nuisance during the dry months, this pest attacks the young plants by nibbling or cutting off the stem near the ground level. They usually attack at night, hence its control is best achieved by drenching the soil where the larvae seek refuge during the day. Aldrin or Heptachlor have been proven very effective against the pest when applied late in the afternoon.

Harvesting, Curing and Storing

Index of Maturity – Most sweet peas grown in Baguio and its environs are harvested and marketed as green pods. These are picked when the seeds have just started to bulge in the pods. With present commercial varieties, initial picking of pods commences about 70 to 80 days after planting, and proceeds at 7-10 day interval thereafter, reaching the peak production through the second and third weeks of harvesting. The pods are cut from the stalk with a pair of scissors and placed in a basket tied around the waist of the picker as he goes along from one plot to the another. The best time to harvest is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Care of Harvest – The pods are hauled under a shade, cleaned and sorted and neatly packed in small bamboo baskets lined with banana leaves. Damaged pods are those with brown spots or freckles are left for the family’s consumption.

For seed production intended for the next planting season, the pods are left in the field until mature and dry. These are harvested, further cured under the sun for a few days, then threshed by hand. The seeds are cleaned and spread under the shade for further drying. Bare seeds dried directly under the sun tend to crack their seed coats which affects their viability and keeping quality. Properly dried seeds are kept in tins or muslin bags and stored under dry environment.

For more information contact:

Department of Agriculture
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
(0632) 920-4069 to 75
Email: [email protected]

source: Cultural Requirements for Phil. Agricultural Crops, photo from

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