It is the day after serious flooding hit the north of England and I am standing with Colin Wright, agricultural manager at Birds Eye, in a pea field in Hull.
With scare stories doing the rounds in the national press about the threat of a pea shortage as a result of the bad weather, Wright is demonstrating that the industry has not come to a standstill. When we get to the field it is 11am and the harvesting, or vining as it is known, is already half complete, having started at 5.30am. Pea production, he says, is back on track.
If anyone is well placed to judge the effect of the recent bad weather it is Wright. Birds Eye's resident pea expert has been involved in 35 pea seasons with the company. At 8am each morning during the 50-day pea season he has the unenviable task of tasting the peas that have just come in from the field. This means a daily breakfast of some 18 plates of peas and, during the harvest, Wright and his team will have tested more than 1,500 tonnes of them. It's a wonder he isn't green.
Wright is unlikely to have seen many worse starts than this particular harvest, however. Last month, just one week into the season, rain destroyed swathes of the low-lying crops, hampering farmers' ability to get on to their fields and destroying a week's worth of crops in some areas.
Figures from the Food and Drink Federation show this year's total crop could be down by up to 30%.
Birds Eye's Hull processing plant was at the centre of the storm and nearby roads became submerged in four feet of water, affecting farmers' ability to supply it. Yet the company is determined not to let the downpours dampen its spirits. While some pea crops have been damaged, others have been protected and the field being harvested today, while a little damp, has weathered the storm well.
Birds Eye's operation is mammoth. As the world's largest pea processor, with some 26,000 acres of pea fields, it produces nearly 45,000 tonnes of peas a year, all of which are sourced from the UK. During a typical season, farmers work for 22 hours a day (two hours are taken for cleaning the machines) seven days a week.
Yet despite its size, Birds Eye has been every bit as vulnerable as other pea processors during the storms and farmers have had to work hard to keep on track.
The company's pledge that all its peas are frozen within two-and-a-half hours of being picked, for example, has been an issue. Farmers harvest in 30-minute slots and have just 10 minutes in which to load the peas into lorries and leave the field. Birds Eye has calculated that the journey time to the plant can't take more than 57 minutes in order for the peas to be cleaned, blanched and frozen in time.
"It is essential to freeze the peas quickly because once they come out of the ground they start to decay and the sugars begin to turn to starch," says Wright. "As soon as they are harvested the race is on to get them to the plant in time."
The floods have meant that some drivers have struggled to meet their deadlines and some pea production lines have stood still. Typically, only 2% of peas don't make the time slot, but the recent bad weather means this has risen to about 4%.
The different ways that peas are grown also creates challenges. Birds Eye has its own pea breeding programme and the vegetable that ends up on the dinner plate can be one of nine different varieties. Each is chosen for the length of time it takes to mature as well as its taste, colour and size, and while to the untrained eye they look the same, Wright can tell them apart as a sommelier might with fine wines.
This gives Birds Eye precious little leeway for when it can harvest each crop. With only an eight-hour window when the crop is at its best, if the farmers can't get to the fields in time the peas are ruined.
To test the peas for freshness, every batch goes through a 'tenderometer' - a long-handled instrument that sheers through them to measure their exact maturity and sweetness. Any peas that fail do not make it as frozen peas. About 92% of the peas delivered to the plant on time do make the grade, however.
An aerial flight confirms that many crops have escaped the worst of the flooding. Wright is adamant there will be sufficient supply this year and says prices will be unaffected.