27 July 2001

Pinto beans play part in rotation?

LENTILS and pinto beans could be serious crop prospects for UK growers within the next few years, scientists told a recent meeting of the Association of Applied Biologists.

They hailed the two crops as having "real potential" and concluded there was no reason why UK growers could not achieve results comparable with the other big world producers.

Sunderland University technician Paul Griffin has been trialling pinto beans since 1997. He believes they have huge potential for British agriculture, not least because they sell for £1-£2/kg.

The beans are the biggest bean import into the US for use in soup mixes and refried beans. "The UK also imports 15,000t of the bean annually for culinary use," he says.

Although pinto beans are mainly grown in tropical countries, for trial purposes Mr Griffin sourced the variety Othello from New Zealand.

"In the US and China, yields of 2.7-2.8t/ha are common. Over here it has been averaging about 3t/ha, although I have seen yields of 6t/ha and even 15t/ha." &#42