Stephen Belcher, PGRO principal technical officer, comments on the new PGRO voluntary Pulse Levy- funded Recommended Lists for peas and spring and winter beans.
Autumn 2012 was a very wet period and many winter bean crops were not sown until the spring. The poor autumn weather meant some OSR crops failed and the area of spring sown crops (in particular spring beans) benefited. The weather in 2013 was favourable to these late sowings and to spring sown pulse crops in general. Yields from spring beans were higher than average and quality generally good. Peas were a little more variable, but overall yields and quality were good.
After the wet autumn, January experienced a particularly cold period, but winter beans survived this well. Overall spring 2013 was the coldest since 1962 and temperatures only really recovered in July. July however, saw a heat wave from 3 22 July which caused wilting in some bean crops. The spring was generally dry across the UK, but drilling in the East was delayed by a wet first 3 weeks of March. The summer was generally dry with favourable harvest conditions, particularly for peas.
Overall trial yields (5.58t/ha) of peas were a little up on the 5 year (5.02t/ha) average. Seven trials went through to harvest, with yields ranging from 7.28t.ha in Essex to 4.42t/ha in Cambridgeshire.
There are no changes in the white pea category with Salamanca, Mascara and Gregor all remaining fully recommended. Similarly in the Large blues, Crackerjack, Prophet and Daytona remain with a full recommendation. Stratford continues with a second year provisional recommendation (P2) and has the best rating for downy mildew resistance (8).
New to the List for 2014 is Campus. Large blue Campus (LS Plant Breeding) just pips Crackerjack as the top yielding variety on the list and combines a very high score (8) for standing ability with a moderate rating for downy mildew resistance.
Fully Recommended maple peas Mantara and Rose are joined on the list by Rainbow with a P1 recommendation. Rainbow (IAR Agri) gives similar yields to Rose and larger produce. Pea colour is different to either Rose or Mantara.
In the marrowfat category Sakura, Neon and Genki remain fully recommended varieties, while Bibao moves from P1 to P2 recommendation. With the withdrawal of Hawaii from the list by the breeder there are no small blues in that category.
In the wet autumn of 2012, 4 out of 6 winter beans were sown. Unlike 2012 season, levels of chocolate spot were much lower this year. 2013 trial yields (4.95t/ha) were higher than the 5 year (4.34t/ha) average and much higher than 2012 (3.51t/ha).
In recent years there has been little change in winter bean varieties, but for 2014, two new varieties were added to the list.
In the pale hilum category, Honey now joins Wizard as a fully recommended variety, while Sultan moves from fully recommended to outclassed.
New to this category for 2014, with a 1st year provisional recommendation (P1) is Tundra. Tundra (Limagrain UK) is the highest yielding in this this category and has a good all round agronomic package, but produce is a little smaller than Wizard.
In the black hilum (feed bean) category, Clipper and Arthur remain fully recommended varieties. Joining these for 2014 with a P1 recommendation is Buzz. Buzz (Wherry and Sons) is a little lower yielding than Clipper or Arthur and sits between these two for earliness and shortness of straw. Standing ability is better however, and produce has a very large thousand seed weight.
Last year I wrote that it was an exciting time for spring beans, and indeed the two new high yielding varieties newly recommended in 2012 have not let us down in 2103. Trial yields (5.58t/ha) were better than the 5 year average (5.02t/ha). Levels of downy mildew were much lower than in 2012.
In the pale hilum category Fury, Pyramid, Fuego and Babylon all remain Fully Recommended varieties, while Boxer gains a full recommendation for 2014.
Progressing from P1 to P2 recommendation are Vertigo and Fanfare. Vertigo is the top yielding variety, significantly out-yielding Fuego, while Fanfare is a little behind Vertigo. Downy mildew for these varieties is mediocre (4) compared to Fury and Pyramid (6) and Babylon (7).
Finally, tic bean Maris Bead deserves a mention for achieving 50 years on the Recommended List (1964 to 2104). We think this a unique occurrence and one that may not be repeated.
2013 has seen an increased area of spring beans, good yields and good quality. With need for break crops in the rotation and good new varieties in the pipeline we hope to see this trend continue into 2014 and beyond.