PGRO Crop Update (24.02.14)


Interest in spring cropping is growing as farmers come to realise the many benefits of including beans and peas in the rotation. This was evident in the attendance this year at the PGRO/Syngenta joint Roadshows where there was standing room only at some venues.

One of the big attractions for many this year will be the extent to which growing spring pulses can help in the battle against blackgrass. PGRO’s Jim Scrimshaw underlined this by quoting a statement from Rothamsted Research that including a spring-sown crop is likely to be the most beneficial single element in blackgrass control. This should be seen against the background of increasing blackgrass resistance to herbicides across the UK. Blackgrass is so competitive that a relatively low population can reduce yields in autumn-sown crops, he added. As 70-80% per cent of the weed’s emergence occurs in September and October, a reassessment of rotation could well be beneficial.

As a further benefit for pulses, new and improved varieties are now bringing a boost to yields.  For example, the new spring bean varieties – Vertigo, Fanfare and Boxer – have shown in trials that these can bring a yield boost of up to 11 per cent over previous market leaders, PGRO’s Steve Belcher stated. “And of the new large blue pea varieties, Campus sets a new yield level, just ahead of Crackerjack, while offering very good standing ability.”

PGRO expert advice at the Roadshows was supplemented by Syngenta’s update of agrochemical inputs and from speakers representing the British Edible Pulse Association (BEPA) who confirmed there has been a marked swing from winter beans to spring being grown in the UK.

“The market for human consumption beans was a good example of the excellent demand for UK-produced pulses,” notes BEPA President Andy Bury. “A prime outlet is the valuable Egyptian market, where demand, despite the country’s struggles, continues to be strong.

“The UK is established as a reliable, quality supplier when competing with France and Australia to supply this market, where quality is paramount.  This is particularly true for visual appearance – where uniform size, even colour and minimal bruchid damage is key.”

In summary, adds Roger Vickers, CEO of PGRO:  “With pulses, growers have a crop that eases current too-tight wheat/wheat/osr rotations, helps the fight against blackgrass, provides a boost to yields to the following wheat crop – and brings a very worthwhile gross margin.  A win-win all round for growers!”