Harvest began in greatconditions even though recent weeks have brought catchy weather, commentsRoger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. Samples of peas and beans so far seenby the trade have generally been good – and there is a welcome increase in bothquality and quantity of marrowfat peas.
While poor conditions at harvest can adverselyaffect quality – peas in particular can be quick to bleach and discolour – themajority of the UK pea crops are now in store, those remaining inevitably beingfurther north.
Winter beans are approximately 50% harvested – butthe spring crop has barely begun – perhaps just 5% has been cut. Despitethe recent rains, conditions have not yet affected the quality of the majorityof bean crops – winter bean samples with a bright tan finish and a hint ofgreen colour have been the norm with less than average bruchid beetle damage.
Mr Vickers points out it is still too early fordefinitive comment on the outcome of harvest as a whole with crops yet to becut and so many samples to be evaluated. Crops have looked good all through thegrowing season and early indications are optimistic for yields above average,though in the case of marrowfat peas a few percentage points may have been lostwith premature senescence during the peak of the heat in July, and peas in thesouth east may have yielded a little lower than anticipated.
Chris Collings, Presidentof BEPA, points out that as with all crops, when prices fall, yield and qualityremain the key to maintaining margins: With harvest not complete,and the trading year only just starting, there is a long way to go and much canchange. Growers yet to combine should prioritise achieving good quality to thelast cut of harvest.
Looking at feed beans, the base value has followedwheat futures down, however, significant premium remains. Currently, ex farmvalues hover around 130/tonne. At this level there has been considerableinterest from the feed compounders for use in cattle and pig diets, displacingrape and soya meal. Buyers have shown a real appetite for the product and wouldappear to have laid a sustainable base for the market. This is excellent newsfor the market for both the current crop, and that of 2016.
For human consumption beans, uncertainty aroundavailability and quality from other markets remains. However, the UK crop isstill in demand and the issue slowing brisk trade is the availability ofcurrency for payment. Combined with UK produce quality being good so far, thesupply and demand situation is likely to put downward pressure on premiums inthe short term, currently running at circa 20-25/tonne.
Marrowfat peas remain in demand with prices rangingfrom 300 – 330/tonne ex depending upon quality and it is thought that thisvalue will be maintained.
Large blue pea prices suffered towards the end ofthe trading of crop 2014 and they remain under pressure. Low quality peas -typically bypassed vining peas – put a base price in the feed market discountedbelow feed beans at circa 120/tonne ex.
With some excellent blue pea yields, with many over5t/ha and some reported at circa 7t/ha, there is significant downward pressure.Prices range between 140-160/tonne ex depending upon quality – but for reallypoor crops the feed pea price beckons.
As for all pulse crops, we continue to stress thatmargins are dictated by yield and quality, adds Mr Collings.