It is an exciting time for growers who are looking to include winter beans in their rotation either to meet the five per cent EFA requirement in CAP greening, or as a solution for dealing with black-grass infestations, as new high yielding varieties offer a real step change in yield offerings, says Peter Busfield, commercial manager, at Dunns International Seeds.
“Market demand remains high as the human consumption requirements of the Middle East and North Africa continue to rise, so it is important that we have access to varieties that fulfill this added value market – and can make a real impact on the farm gross margin.”
To meet these opportunities, breeders Limagrain UK have brought to the market place an exciting new, very high yielding winter bean, Tundra. Tundra has a pale hilum colour, which makes it potentially suitable for these premium export markets.
Currently in second year recommendation at P2 and due for full recommendation this autumn, Tundra offers growers a 9% step up in yield over market stalwart Wizard at 106 % yield over control, compared to Wizard’s 97%.
This step up in yield is significant enough to make many growers think about making a change to a new variety, says Mr Busfield. “Agronomically the variety fits well on farm, as we have seen with Wizard, as it offers a similar level of ratings for earliness of ripening (8), shortness of straw (8) and standing power(7).”
Farmers who have grown seed crops of Tundra this year have been pleased with its performance in what has been a variable year for winter bean yields. For HJ Hewett & Sons of Pinch Pool Farm, Windrush, Burford, their crop of Tundra was the first bean crop that has been grown on the farm in the last ten years, and the first winter bean crop ever.
“Whilst beans were never going to be the highest earning crop on the farm, we felt that we could make them a useful part of the rotation. We thought we would give winter beans a try and were interested in this new variety’s potential; to see if it lived up to its yield promises and also to see how the beans would fit into the bigger farm situation.”
37ha’s of Tundra for seed were drilled on the 15th October at a rate of 130kg/ha using a Horsch 4CO drill into light Cotswold brash land previously ploughed and worked down following high levels of black grass infestation, in the previous winter wheat crop.
“It looked promising from start to finish- it was competitive and branched out really well.
Inputs were fairly standard, weed control based around carbetamide and pendimethalin and a two spray fungicide and bruchid programme.”
“We have been really pleased with the crop which yielded just over 5t/ha. We found the beans allowed us to get on top of the black-grass, and having a later drilled crop has worked well for us on the whole. We will be doing the same again this year”
For Charles Mathieson of WA Howes & Son, Crawley Hall Farm, Norton, Bury St Edmunds, beans have always been part of his rotation, grown one year in six. His crop of Tundra yielded around 5t/ha. “I was worried when we had a really dry May how this would affect yields, as the crop was on light soils and they really suffered with the lack of rainfall, but they obviously coped well.”
He believes that getting the crop established is key and that in focusing on this, variability in yields is reduced.
Mr Mathieson drills at the optimum date for the bean crop -not just fitting the beans in when the wheat has been finished. He acknowledges that this carries the risk of the beans being forward, however he has dealt with this by building his own drill and planting seed much deeper than recommended (at 15-20cm) in rows 40cm apart which slows down emergence and lets the plant get its roots really well developed.