Arable News

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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Pulse update

The new crop of peas are upon us in some cases.The earliest crops will already have been safely gathered in cooler, kindconditions before the recent rain, says Chris Collings, President of BEPA(British Edible Pulse Association).

In the UK it has generally been a comfortablegrowing season for producers of peas and beans. A slow cool start gave causefor concern, but the crops seem to have got themselves set. Then when thetemperatures rose, a regular supply of moisture allowed the crops to thrive.For both crops, disease intensity has generally been low, and apart from amassive late spike in black bean aphid pressure (and a temporary exhausting ofnational availability of pirimicarb products), so have pest levels. The traderemains optimistic for a good quality harvest with satisfying yields.

Looking at international markets, he notes thatFrench bean crops suffered in the flowering period from drought and hightemperatures which exceeded 40C for several days at the end of June. The northwestern areas have fared better than the Paris basin region and further east.It is expected that the French bean crop may yield similar volumes from anincreased crop area, but quality will again be poorer than desired. Bruchidbeetle remains a continuing and dominant problem for French producers and willrestrict their ability to access the North African export markets.  Peacrops have similarly been affected, with the high temperatures limiting yieldpotential as pod set and flowering stopped early.

In Canada, the latest crop update details theincrease in sown area of pulses and special crops over the last three years.Whilst 2013-2016 harvest year figures show an increase in actual and forecastcrop area, the estimated yield per ha is decreasing and the total yield ispredicted to fall consistently. Total production is set to fall from 6.8million tonnes to 6.1 million tonnes in 2016. Persisting dry conditions are theheadline reason suggested for this trend. Canadian green pea quality wasvariable in 2013/14, and as a result premium over yellow peas were lower thanhistorically achieved. 2015/16 production of green peas is expected to fall.Low but increasing levels of interest in Faba bean production continue,especially in the state of Alberta. Canadian Faba beans are being offered toNorth African buyers.

In the USA, withreported expansion in Montana, the US crop area of peas is set to increase byaround 7% next year, rising to a record 400,000ha. Production is expected totop 0.8 million tonnes.

Australian Faba bean production area rose 39% yearon year with 228,200ha sown for crop 2015, the larger cropping areas being inNew South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. Earlier in the year with somefrantic talk of a strongly developing El Nio effect likely to impactAustralia, there must have been some worried growers in the southern states.The crucial period for 2015 harvest is not over and many areas will needsignificant moisture during the flowering and pod fill period. Nine of the tendriest winterspring periods on record for eastern Australia occurred during ElNio years. Although most major Australian droughts have been associated withEl Nio, drought does not occur with every event, and the strength of an ElNio is not directly proportional to drought intensity. The official currentoutlook is for warmer temperatures and drier conditions in the south andeast-the major Faba bean cropping areas.

In Egypt, issues relating to accessing hardcurrency have limited some trades in recent months and are not resolved,although reports indicate that the Egyptian economy is growing and is expectedto be boosted in the coming months by large infrastructure projects. Egyptianpopulation is 8 million larger than in 2010 at 86.7million. Demand will remainhigh, but it will be the availability of hard currency controlled by thegovernment and competition amongst suppliers that will dictate the pace oftrade in the new crop. The weakening value of Sterling will help exporters.

Chris Collings notes that, in the UK market, theoverall picture for feed beans has not changed dramatically since the Maymarket update: There is continued pressure on the markets with the prospectsof good supply forcing all prices down. Since May, the price for feed beans hasfallen to below 160/t but in reality there has been little trade in theintervening period. Earlier commitments for November shipment agreed at 160/tlook good as values have followed wheat down and now trade at circa 20 overNovember feed wheat futures.

There is still some time to go until harvest andgrowers need to focus on maintaining what has generally been a good crop sofar, with the market principally being driven by wheat values. There isconfidence of supply in the market and UK feed compounders are now interestedfor ruminant rations.

For human consumption beans, as noted above, thereis some uncertainty about the level of crop available from France and Australiaand the quality of the produce that will be offered, hence UK produce will bein demand.

Estimates of forward premiums for humanconsumption beans remain at 20 to 25/tonne over feed bean values but withouttrades. This puts current values at around 165/tonne ex farm.

It is anticipated that Baltic, Ukrainian &Polish production will be offered in bigger volumes this year as their 2014crop was accepted by Egyptian markets. These are trading at a discount to theUK crop circa of around -15/tonne. Canada produce is being sold at a premiumsince it is very close to the original Egyptian beans and appreciated bycustomers for size, quality and taste.

The emphasis as we approach harvest has to be uponachieving the best quality, maximising yield, and taking the beans when theyare ready. Fitting them in around other crops is a great gamble that can seepremiums, markets and margins disappear in a flash. With larger crop areas inthe ground and potentially more crop to harvest the emphasis on quality is amust for growers.

For combining peas, the marrowfat story continues.Restricted for 2015 by seed availability, the situation is unlikely to alterdramatically from 2015 crop. With higher returns anticipated for good qualityproduce, over 300/tonne might be expected – but retaining a good visual sampleis essential and cropping priorities need to be orientated towards achievingthis. The trade anticipates a small carry over into the next harvest yearensuring the all-important continuity of supply in the supply chain forclients, that has for too long been missing.

As previously reported, some parts of the tradehave received very significant interest in 2016 crop and in some cases havealready closed their contract book. With area set to rise a little, growers areadvised to check out contracts to secure the market for their produce.Marrowfat pea production carries some risk and requires high quality produce tocommand best values and returns: peas which fail to make the grade are likelyto trade at a significant discount- below the value of feed beans.

For blue peas, at the time of writing there is nonews of new crop trades but old crop values have fallen  to below175/tonne ex with poor samples at less than 145/tonne.

  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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