Snap Peas "snapping"?

May 20, 2019

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Snap Peas
Snap Peas
Request:  I planted two types of snap peas this year - Sugar Snap and Sugar Anne. I planted them in separate areas - Sugar Snap in the ground and Sugar Anne in pots. In both cases, some of the pods have turned out like regular shelling peas - that is, they are the same size and shape as the other snap peas, but they have that film on the inside of the pod that makes it impossible to eat. This is super frustrating when you pop one in your mouth. My question is - did I get a bad batch of seeds (seems unlikely since these were from two different packs), or is there some environmental condition or stressor that causes snap pea plants to revert to a shelling-type pod?  I'm not even sure how to go about Googling that - a cursory effort showed no results.

The image at right shows the weird ones laying on the wood (you can see the crease where I tested each one for 'snap'. I appreciate any insight you might have, this is my third year growing peas and the first time it's ever happened.

UCMGCC Help Desk Response:  Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk with a question about your snap peas. Snap peas' pods will naturally become woody or tough when they are too mature (late Spring for most County gardeners, a little later in West County). This is a common problem. You should harvest them just as the peas fill out. Waiting even a bit longer risks having tougher, woody pods. Most County vegetable gardeners grow Snap Peas as spring fill-in crops and harvest and pull them moving on to summer crops. 

I hope this information is useful. Happy gardening! 

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (SEH)

Note:  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 608-6683, email:, or on the web at MGCC Blogs can be found at You can also subscribe to the Biog.


By Steve I Morse
Author - Contra Costa County Master Gardener