Growers still have time to sow winter bean seed up until the end of April, but they should aim for a thicker crop, says one expert.

PGRO’s principle technical officer, Becky Ward, says increasing the plant density to between 30 and 40 plants/sq m will help mitigate winter beans failure to produce additional branches when planted in spring.

Growers will also have to take into consideration the wet weather and soil types. Previous work at PGRO suggests heavy land is particularly favourable for winter beans sown in spring, while on lighter land there may be a reduction in yield to 80% from spring varieties.

Meanwhile, the wet weather means farmers must be prepared to be flexible, with Ms Ward suggesting growers should consider avoiding planting on headlands to reduce consolidation.

The increased use of home-saved seed means testing will also be important this year.

Ms Ward warns stem and bulb nematode levels in farm-saved seed could be high following a wet season in 2012 and this seed could lead to long-term field problems.

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