1 September 1995

Beans hit by cracking

CRACKING in ultra-dry field bean seed is so bad a plea for a lower germination standard is on the cards, according to a breeders spokesman.

PBI Cambridge says that with about half its winter bean seed samples inspected so far, none has a germination rate above 75%. The certified minimum standard is 85%.

"It is not varietal. It is just the effect of the drought," says the firms Mike Bearman. "The seeds were so dry and brittle when they were harvested. We have nothing with less than 10% mechanical damage."

The plan is to hand-clean some samples and re-test to assess the practical implications. "But it will probably be necessary for us to ask for a derogation." A UKASTA questionnaire is being circulated to assess the full picture, he adds.

With growers farm-saving about half their requirements the market for certified winter beans is about 7000t. Opting for a germination rate as low as 75% could undermine growers confidence in certified material, notes Mr Bearman. "But I would not mind betting we shall need 3000t of derogated seed. And if we only go to 80% we probably wont get it." &#42