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Cape Gazette
Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
June 19, 1998     Cape Gazette
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June 19, 1998
 

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Rehoboth's beaches are widening as the pea harvesting armada takes to the fields Oats, peas, beans and barley grow, Oats, peas, beans and barley grow, Do you or I or anyone know how oats, peas, beans and barley grow? Folk song of mysterious origin Many factors govern the growth of peas, Take the fields outside Lewes where J.G. Townsend Co.'s pea viners began their slow assault this week. Those peas grew from seeds produced in Idaho, probably grown in the late winter and early spring of 1997. The harvest began this week because the heat units required to bring the vegetables to maturity have been reached. What's a heat unit? Roger Townsend, watching half a dozen of the big pea harvesting ma- chines working their way across the muddy field, explained: "A heat unit is a measurement that takes the high temperature of the day and the low temperature of the day, gets an average from that, and then subtracts 40. What's left over is the number of heat units for that day. For exam- ple if you have 50 degrees as the high temperature and 40 degrees as the low, that's a total of 90, di- vided by two gives you an average of 45, subtract 40 and that leaves you with 5 heat units for that day." Townsend, whose family has been planting, harvesting, pro- eessing and wholesaling Sussex County peas for decades, said the pea picking begins when the total heat unit count reaches a magic number. "It's based on the variety of pea and what the seed grower tells us the number is. We start counting heat units the day after the peas go in the ground. It's fairly precise. We have to start picking within three to six days of when the total gets reached. Oth- erwise the grade of the peas be- gins to fall." The farmer said when the prop- er unit count nears, he also takes samples from the field and drives them to University of Delaware's substation near Georgetown. "We look at them there and test them with a tenderometer." On Wednesday morning this week, following the heavy rains of the night before, Townsend faced :!! / iii!iiiii iii,iiiiiii , BAREF00TIN' Dennis Forney a dilemma - but not an unusual dilemma in the farming business. Harvesters don't move quickly, but in a muddy field they move even slower. One had stopped al- together, its wheels dug into the mud, its axles at ground level. As we talked, a tractor moved across the field and positioned itself in front of the harvester to try to pull it out. "We could wait for a few hours to let the field dry a little, but only a few hours." Townsend waved toward a patch of unharvested peas, not far from where the one harvester sat stalled, a few yards in front of where we talked. "See how some of those plants are starting to yellow. They're past their prime. They'll be B or C grade. If we get behind on this field then we'll be behind on the next plantings. At this point the planters are still moving so I think we'll just fight the mud to try to keep up with them." Townsend said the harvesters can often work their way through the mud but the trucks that haul away the harvested peas are an- other story. "There's many times that we have to literally pull the trucks through the field with a tractor." Townsend shrugged his shoulders. That's farming. When the pea harvesting ends, the Townsend operation will pre- pare the field for the next crop - maybe lima beans, maybe barley, maybe oats - and the miracle of growth will continue. WHILE .THE CROPS are growing, so, too, is the width of the beach in Rehoboth and the number of people on it and in the Continued on page 8 Pea picking in wet fields requires a harvester, a truck to haul the peas and a tractor to pull the truck. POPULAR NANTUCKETT MODEL KINGS CREEK - This "big, little home" has just been completed for your inspection. The home features 3+ BR, 2 BA, greatroom with fireplace, huge master bedroom with cathedral ceilings, din- ing room, private nook, screened porch, sun deck and 2 car garage. Full golf membership included in selling price. KCCC's BEST BUY at $289,000! I 123 BREEZEWOOD DRIVE. Four bedroom - two bath Cape Cod on large lot. Two car garage & studio. $149,900 57B DELAWARE AVE. REHOBOTH Three bedroom condo, second floor. Recently redecorated. $124,500 114 COLEMAN AVE. LEWES Near hospital. Five year-round apartments. 100'x125' Lot $299,900 I LEWES OFFICE REHOBOTH BEACH .... 117 Savannah Road OFFICE Lewes /M  317 Reh0both Avenue Ct Delaware 19958 Rehoboth Beach .. 302-645-6100 Delaware 171 302-227-4800 I C,! 800.244-2501 800.955.6350