13 October 1995

Bean planting count advice

WINTER bean growers must plant the right number of seeds this autumn and not sow by weight. Failure to do so could see over-proud crops suffer.

Although mechanical damage at harvest lowered germination levels in many seed lots, the drought also cut seed size.

As a result, average thousand grain weights are about two-thirds of normal. So sowing the same weight as usual could exceed target rates by 50%, far outweighing germination loss, warn experts.

"This year, especially, it is critical that growers check germination levels and thousand grain weights so they know where they stand," says Mike Bennett, of Burton on Trent-based Farm Supply (South).

This will enable them to calculate the weight of seed needed to give an ideal spring population of 20 plants a sq m, he explains. An allowance of about 10% should be made for winter kill, he advises.

Thicker populations will be at greater risk from early chocolate spot attack in the spring, he warns. They are also more prone to lodging and poor flowering.

Amanda Lee of Seed Innovations, Downham Market, agrees. Most retailers will tailor orders to suit, she maintains. "All growers need do is give the area to be planted and how many plants they want and merchants will supply the correct amount of seed."

&#8226 Warm soils could lead to winter-proud crops this season, warns ADAS. Volunteers have germinated and grown rapidly in the past few weeks and early-sown crops are likely to do the same. It advises growers to bias plantings towards the end of their usual sowing window, weather permitting.