Speaking at the PGRO DemonstrationDay at Stockbridge Technology Centre on Tuesday 1st July, AndyBury, President of BEPA (British Edible Pulses Association), reflected onthe old crop market, what made bean prices move, and looked forward to thecoming harvest and onwards to next season.
Looking first at old crop, Andy Burynoted that in 2013 the UK had a much bigger spring bean crop than the previousyear, and after a near perfect growing season, the quality was excellent withgood colour and minimal bruchid damage: The French, in contrast, had a smallercrop of very poor quality due to an untimely drought and minimal opportunitiesto spray for Bruchid.
The UK market quickly appreciatedour excellent quality and were happy to sell large quantities to Egypt both inbulk vessels and containers. As a consequence, market values for feed remained unchanged,but the premium for human consumption crumbled from over 30/t to less than10/t.
Turning to the market outlook forbeans in particular for harvest 2014, he pointed out that with a bigger area ofwinter beans in the ground and a reduced acreage of springs, we can expect tosee 10-15% less than last year while the French have an unchanged crop size.
To date the weather has beenperfect for the UK crop for both yield and quality. Demand from Egypt islooking strong as their own crop was poor, and many of the old crop Australianbeans have been put into cold storage for Ramadan which has just started.
The main market driver for thiscoming season will continue to be Egypt. Values there will depend on thequality and availability of French beans, the relative strength of sterlingagainst the dollar, and the quality of the UK crop.
UK domestic demand will again belimited as it is only the Aquaculture and bean and rapeseed extrusion plantsthat will continue to use beans.
Andy Bury predicts that there is nodoubt that the area of pulses grown will increase over the next twoyears. The increase will come about in part due to reduced returns fromoilseed rape with its markets under pressure from abundant world supplies -while the cost of growing the crop continues to rise.
Also with the increasing blackgrassproblem, many growers will be looking for a more spring crops.
And pulses are also ideal as athird crop under the new CAP reforms in place for harvest 2015.
So with a bigger pulse crop beanvalues will get pressured, but with 2015 values already trading at a 40/tpremium over wheat, if you are planning to grow beans then now may be the timeto make some sales, he adds.
Downy mildew request
Pea downy mildewis the most common disease of both vining and combining peas in the UK andcurrent conventional control options are limited to seed treatment, rotationalmanagement and varietal tolerance.
Dr Kerry Maguire, speaking at the PGRO DemoDay this week, explained that, with the John Innes Centre, they started aproject in February 2014 (HDC funded project FV 436) to investigate the racestructure of downy mildew across the UK.
She made a special request to all growers tohelp with the project: In the first year PGRO is collecting downy mildewinfected pea plant samples. We wouldlike to request that all growers send diseased plants to our plant clinic. Weare interested in receiving samples from all parts of the UK. Samples should beplaced in a polythene bag and sent to PGRO.
Downy mildew is soil-borne, causingsignificant plant loss early in the season when conditions are suitable forinfection. Primary infection occurs at emergence, and plants are pale andstunted, with a grey-mauve velvety mycelial growth on the underside of leaves.This primary infection is spread to the rest of the crop to cause secondaryinfection.
There are several races of pea downy mildew,and fields with a history of downy mildew infection may contain a mixture ofthese. Equally, races may vary depending on location in the UK. Some varietaltolerance exists in commercial varieties, but many varieties are verysusceptible and often suffer losses when sown early in the season.
Dr Maguire added: This will help us toprovide growers with information about the geographic incidence of the diseaseand varietal tolerance to different races which may vary in different regionsas race structure of downy mildew changes. Information from the project will beused by the breeding industry to develop improved resistance in pea varieties.