Pea and bean crops the latest victims of the weather

With harvest already delayed because the wet weather has kept wheat and oilseed rape crops green there is concern that as priority is given to higher value crops the condition of peas and beans may deteriorate to the point that pods lose their integrity and losses begin to occur.

Peter Smith of Wherry & Sons reports seeing a low incidence of split pods in trials in recent weeks and worries that this may become greater if a large area of crops lodge or the weather remains unfavourable in the build-up to harvest.

“We know from the experience of oilseed rape that warm and wet days increase the stress on pods and lead to increased shattering. With marrowfats trading in the high £200s per tonne and feed beans in the region of £230/tonne plus premiums a bad year for split pods could result in heavy losses and potentially affect quality,” says Peter Smith.

The PGRO’s Stephen Belcher agrees that there is reason for concern.

“Should the weather in the build-up to harvest remain changeable then there is a risk to crops. Whereas beans are a little more flexible and don’t tend to clash with wheat harvest peas are less forgiving,” he says.

According to the PGRO there is roughly 25,000ha of peas and 95,000ha of beans to harvest meaning any losses would be significant to the performance of the UK crop.

With wheat and oilseed prices maintaining the pressure on peas and beans for their place in the rotation a high incidence of yield losses and/or quality is unlikely to retain interest among growers for next year.

Some growers however, have found applying a pod sealer reduces the risk of losses in the run up to harvest and at the time of combining.

According to De Sangosse, trials have shown that applying Pod-Stik can significantly reduce losses in both winter beans and spring peas, just as it does in oilseed rape.

“Pod-Stik works by bridging the upper pod suture line, where the pod starts to split due to maturity and repeated wetting and drying.  Independent trials have shown that Pod-Stik can save up to 0.6t/ha in both winter beans and spring sown peas,” says De Sangosse commercial director Kim Christo.

“Applied at 1 litre per ha with a water rate of 100-300 litres with or without a desiccant Pod-Stik costs about £10/ha. With pea prices upwards of £250/tonne it represents an instant pay back of up to 25:1,” adds Kim Christo.