Diagnosing early moisture stress in field peas

Early moisture stress may affect germination and early growth. Water stressed seedlings are more severely affected by other constraints. Induced nutrient deficiencies may be worse in cold weather.


Darker coloured plants from induced phosphorus deficiency
Root growth is normal
Patchy canola germination restricted to water-gaining places

What to look for


  • Patchy germination that may vary across the paddock according to seeding depth, soil type or other factors that affect soil moisture infiltration and storage.


  • Dark and dull coloured plants.
  • Reddened stems leaves and leaf margins.
  • Plants that have wilted, become stunted or die.

What else could it be

Condition Similarities Differences
Diagnosing phosphorus deficiency in field peas Dark reddened plants. Rarely seen in plants with adequate water
Diagnosing water repellence Patchy germination. Only in water repellent soil.
Diagnosing rhizoctonia hypocotyl rot in grain legumes Patchy germination, stunted , dying seedlings. Red-brown hypocotyl lesions.

How can it be monitored?

  • Unless the problem is obviously due to drought, dig a hole and examine the soil profile for:
  • water content
  • soil texture
  • soil pH
  • water repellence

Further information

Page last updated: Wednesday, 13 May 2015 - 1:46pm