Arable News

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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Pulses are a good spring option

Andy Bury (pictured), pulse trader for Frontier says the outlook for pulse growers this spring is good:

The difficult plantings conditions weve experienced for winter cereals and oilseed rape mean there will certainly be a sharp increase in the area of spring sown crops and for many, beans and peas could be a good choice. A sound agronomy programme, combined with a strategy for marketing the resulting crop will make for the best returns next season.

Increase in spring pulse crop

Despite seed supply being tight there will still be a significant increase in the area of beans next spring. Although weather conditions mean weve had a reduction in the winter bean area of between 15-20%, spring area is likely to be at least 50% more than in 2012. Given this anticipated additional tonnage, what impact will this have on values for those choosing to plant beans? Firstly, the premium of beans to wheat will come down and Frontier expects to see this trading around 35/t differential. However, even at these levels its a great starting point for marketing the crop especially when there are opportunities for additional human consumption premiums. Demand for human consumption beans will remain strong providing we supply the right quality. Its worth remembering that a key market for human consumption beans is Egypt where the crop is harvested and shipped directly to the consumer without any further processing appearance is a key factor in assessing quality for this market.

 At these lower market levels demand from domestic compounders making ration for ruminant and pigs will be stimulated.  At these values, compounders will switch from more expensive soya bean meal to beans. We also expect to see an increase in feed bean exports allowing growers to move un-dried and un-cleaned beans to less demanding outlets.

Agronomy and marketing advice is key

As with any crop, the key to successful crop production is attention to detail in throughout the growing season. Over the past three years of very variable crop growing conditions Frontiers key spring bean seed growers have been able to achieve outstanding yields and gross margins. The foundations to their success is good crop establishment i.e. making a good seed bed which gives the seed the best possible start. This is then followed by an appropriate and robust herbicide and fungicide programme.

With a large crop in the ground next spring, it is advisable for growers to have a corresponding marketing plan in place. Making use of contracts to secure a strong base price but retaining the flexibility to add a premium for human consumption once the crop quality has been established is the most secure way to market the crop.


Peas are generally viewed as more of a specialist crop, particularly marrowfats. Buyback contracts are available for all marrowfat varieties but again, seed is becoming difficult to source.

In many areas, farmers that might otherwise have grown marrowfats could consider growing either yellow or large blue peas. Contracts are available for both. Where growers are able to grow blue peas its important to ensure that the varieties chosen are suitable for micronising i.e. the colour needs to be consistently green and with minimal staining visible at harvest otherwise penalty clauses may be incurred. Yellow peas offer farmers the advantage of avoiding these penalty clauses for staining.

General outlook

Given all of these factors peas and beans could offer growers an opportunity to grow high gross margin spring crops in 2013. In this, the most challenging of seasons any opportunity to secure margin is worth considering.

Top three pointers for pulse success for this season:

         Secure seed as soon as possible

        Establish a good seedbed and give the crop the same specialist agronomic  attention as cereal and oilseed rape crops

         Have a contract in place to market the resulting crop giving a strong base price with an opportunity to add quality premiums come harvest.

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
  • Posted:
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