Similar to common garden peas, field peas have pale green leaves that consist of three leaflets and a vine-like tendril. Peas generally look bushy and tangled, with many thin vine-like branches that cling together as the plants mature. Pea flowers are typically large and white. They grow into pods that hold 4-9 individual pea seeds. Pea pods mature and turn brown from the lowest hanging pods up, so if being harvested for seed, the bottom pods will be brown, the middle pods tan, the upper pods yellow, and the plant will have very little green before harvest. In Montana, producers usually plant peas in the same field as a small grain like oats or barley, to be used for hay. Field peas are a cool-weather crop, and do best in temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees (F), and are relatively drought-tolerant.
People across the world eat field peas. Unlike garden peas which are harvested and eaten while green, field peas are harvested and marketed after they are dry. However, most farmers in Montana grow peas for hay, silage, or forage. Most hay peas are planted with a small grain and are harvested while green. Peas add considerable nutrients and protein to small grain hay.