Increased field bean and combining pea area in 2016 shows a healthy picture for the pulse crop

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A significant 5% increase in the 2016 field bean area, plus a substantial 18% increase in the combining pea area in the DEFRA June Survey, underlines the fact that the picture for pulses is very healthy, reports PGRO Chief Executive Roger Vickers.

“As the pulse harvest progresses northwards into Scotland, we see pulse yield levels in line with yield reports for cereals and oilseed rape, as we head for a below-average year all round.

“The underlying cause for pulses was a cold and wet spring followed by a hot spell in early July then back to cool and damp. August’s prolonged and warm drier spell came too late to help yields for most growers.

“Quality-wise, early pea crops have been generally good, while some early winter bean samples were poor – although there are also reports of good yield and quality.

“Growers who remained on top of disease have generally fared better, with more visually impressive samples and better yields.

“The variable weather brought some good news for growers – and bad news for bruchids – as bruchid levels and damage are low this year for the majority of growers.”

Whatever their yield level, all growers profit from the significant direct and indirect benefits of pulses. Adding in £60/ha of free Nitrogen from a crop of beans or peas that will fix approximately 250kgs of N/ha and a £100/ha boost for following winter wheat crop – along with the cash flow benefit from reduced production costs – makes the pulse balance sheet look even better.

Growers also get the less easily quantified, but major benefits from spring-grown pulses opening up an extended window for cultural and stale seedbed techniques in the fight against blackgrass and other pernicious weeds – and the opportunity to break the disease cycle in oilseed rape and cereals.

Last, but certainly not least, there are the benefits of compliance with the 3-crop rule. At 5% of the arable area, pulses are a crop that easily and conveniently entitles the grower to qualify for the 30% greening payment in the BPS. Also pulses qualify as EFAs under the same reform process.

“With the increased total area of 173,000ha of field beans this year plus 49,900ha of combining peas, pulses are progressing back to their rightful position as a key crop for arable growers – and this trend is set to continue in 2016-17,” adds Roger Vickers.

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