Yield and maturity warning for winter bean spring sowing

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For those planting winter beans this spring the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) warns that they will need to plan for differences in maturity dates and yield.

With farmers still having winter seed in the shed the organisation says it has received a flood of calls. While this seed can be sown, research shows that rates will have to be increased to counter the yield impact, and maturity may take up to 12 days longer in the east of England.

Field trials for this were last carried out in 2013, following another wet autumn. Principal technical officer Stephen Belcher drilled winter beans in the spring with four populations planted at three sites on three different sowing dates.

These indicated that beans sown at 18 plants/m2 could be grown in the spring, but on average there was a 34% yield reduction. This penalty was reduced by 18% when the seed rate was doubled.

Spring-sown winter seed also took between seven and 12 days longer to reach maturity.

Mr Belcher said: “The viability of using winter bean seed in the spring is a viable option but growers should expect lower yield and later maturity than if autumn sown.

“Based on the work carried out, our guidance is to treat the crop very much like a spring bean and to increase the plant population to around 36-40 plants/m2

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