20 September 1996

Better pulse outlook

PULSE prospects are improving with better-than-expected yields and firmer forward prices.

Peas and beans are also likely to be spared any cuts in area aid proposed by Brussels for other crops to help finance the BSE crisis. This would leave payments at £385/ha (£156/acre) for English growers.

"Quality of the pea crop is good, with most having been harvested before the recent wet weather," says Dalgety pulse manager, Julie Goult. "Samples are clean and dry with very little stain." Some samples for human consumption and micronising have suffered varying degrees of bleaching, she adds. "But prices of up to £200/t for good quality marrowfats have already been heard."

Peas are more typically trading at £131/t for compounding. But at an average yield of 3.88t/ha (1.6t/ acre) this should produce an output of £508/ha (£206/acre) and a gross margin of £650/ha (£263/ acre) after allowing for area aid and variable costs.

This may not compete with an estimated gross margin for first wheats this season of £784/ha (£317/acre). But for 1997 harvest, if area aid drops by the 7.3% called for by Brussels and there is a further weakening in grain prices, peas would certainly stack up against lower yielding second and third wheats.

Dalgety is projecting well over £700/ha (£283/acre) for micronising and marrowfat peas.

Prospects for pea exports are also good. Dalgety estimates a surplus of 33,000t from this years crop of 283,240t. "Premiums on blue peas will be good with demand from the near Continent flourishing," says Miss Goult.

The outlook is not quite so bullish for beans. Despite lower prod-uction (down 5.4% to 302,600t) export prospects have been hit by lower demand in Italy and Spain. &#42