powdery mildew

Asked August 28, 2015, 2:48 PM EDT

With the cold, rainy weather for the last 4 days, my sugar snap and garden peas have developed powdery mildew. The older vines are the worst. I have pulled them and put them in the trash. The younger vines have a much lighter case. Are the peas still edible? I hate to waste all the good food and time and energy. Anything I can do to the soil in the area that will mitigate any damage?

Otsego County Michigan

1 Response

Powdery mildew fungal growth is a common malady of peas. Severely infected plants may have reduced yields, shortened production times, and fruit that has little flavor.

After considerable searching, I could not find any research-based information stating whether the fruit is safe to eat. I also could find no information stating the peas would be unsafe to consume. Obviously, you would not want to eat a pod that looked like the one pictured below.

Brownish spots on pea pod from powdery mildew infection

Most fungicides are preventative, meaning they help prevent the mildew from forming or spreading; however, fungicides will not rid mildew from already infected leaves and fruit. Other preventive measures: (1) Improve air circulation and drainage and (2) keep your garden free of debris. Pick off infected leaves and destroy them. If you wish to use a fungicide next year, apply it when the leaves first begin to appear; be sure to use one marked safe for vegetables; and follow all instructions on the package. Both organic and chemical fungicides are available.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please let us know.