Good advice needed to keep UK pulse crop on track

Better market intelligence and sound agronomy advice is needed to ensure pulse growers get all the information they need following DEFRA’s recent decision to allow peas and beans to be grown on Ecological Focus Areas.

While the move is potentially good news for growers and the pulse trade, the expected leap in production must be managed or the trade could be left with a serious supply and image problem, said Stuart Shand, director in charge at Dunns, a major agricultural seed supplier and the UK’s leading edible pulse processor based at Long Sutton, Lincolnshire.

Mr Shand was speaking at the opening of the company’s new bagged seed store, believed to be the largest of its type in the UK. It has a footprint of over 4200m2 and is designed to meet the needs of Dunns’ customers for the next 10 years.

He believed growers, especially those new to peas and beans or returning after a long absence, needed impartial advice to help them make the most of their crops.

“Following the EFA announcement there will be challenges such as education around suitable varieties and agronomy, finding and holding on to new demand domestically and abroad and ensuring new growers are not a one-year wonder.”

There were good opportunities, especially for peas whose area had fallen sharply over recent years, said Mr Shand. New markets could be captured, but a sustainable, high quality crop was needed.

“If growers are not helped to grow a good pea crop, they may not stick with them. That could leave the trade with a serious supply and image problem, especially with customers from abroad.

“It is essential that everyone, including the HGCA and PGRO, works together to put the right message out at the right time,” he told key decision makers in the allied sectors attending the opening.

Guest and HGCA chairman Jonathan Tipples said his organisation was seeking to work with the PGRO and the pulse sector to improve market intelligence. “Pulse growers are subset of our farmer levy payers and there is a need for up-to-date and accessible intelligence to allow those growers to make informed decisions.

“We are undertaking a feasibility study to investigate the provision of market information on pulses and to build our knowledge of the pulse markets.”

HGCA monitor farm meetings also presented a good opportunity to inform, said Mr Tipples. “If we can point to good advice then we will take that opportunity.”

Fellow guest Roger Vickers, chief executive of the PGRO, said his organisation’s advice had always been to grow the best quality possible and it was a key message for all growers next season.

“Like any crop, a good pea or bean crop starts with early planning then attention to detail throughout the season, through harvest and storage,” said Mr Vickers.

“Planning will be especially important as seed is likely to be in short supply – growers will want to secure a variety that best suits their needs so they should act quickly to get a contract.”

Dunns’ new store was opened by Thierry Blandinières, chief executive of InVivo, one of Europe’s largest traders of grain and crop inputs and joint owner of Gleadell, which acquired Dunns in 2012.

The store represents a near £1m investment and will hold 5000t of bagged products, taking site capacity to a massive 13,500t. Like the rest of Dunns’ premises, it is certified to environmental standard ISO 140001 and is accredited under the European Seed Treatment Assurance (ESTA) scheme.

The store would allow more efficient movement of seed crops off farm and help Dunns get treated seed back out to its wholesale customers more quickly, said Mr Shand.

It would also be used for storing edible pulse products out of the seed season, helping to meet the increasing demand for just-in-time deliveries from customers worldwide.

Get Our E-Newsletter - breaking news to your in-box twice a week
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy
Share this story:

About The Author