Variable results in trials fail to deter lupin aspirations
By John Burns
LUPINS have given variable results in field trials this year. But Dalgety remains committed to developing the crop, claiming significant progress on both varieties and husbandry techniques.
One of the most disappointed growers is WH Bond and Sons of Trerulefoot, Cornwall. "Last year we had a terrible time. They were very late ripening and very difficult to dry. We eventually combined in September – the same day as we drilled this years crop," explains Chris Bond.
"This year they were ready in good time, but we are very disappointed with the yield – about 15cwt/acre. I dont think we will grow any more until better varieties are available."
He can see no obvious reason for the low yield. The crop looked good, although some lodged and some yield was lost due to variable ripening. "There just seems to be no yield potential." With a price similar to peas, the income is "far too low", even with cheap growing costs, he says.
Julie Goult, pulses and linseed manager for Dalgety and organiser of the farm trials, admits most other farm trials gave similar results. But some growers reported up to 3t/ha (24cwt/acre).
Equal to spring beans
"I think lupins stood up to the drought as well as spring beans. A ton an acre would be a very good spring bean yield this year.
"You must remember lupins are a developing crop. This autumn our trials will include a truly determinate variety (where all the pods ripen together). It is higher yielding, a dwarf, and determinate. So it is easier to manage."
Trials this autumn will cover 20 farm crops of about 10ha (25 acres) each, plus 20 smaller plots. Seed was expected to arrive on farms this week.
Proposed name for the white-flowered trials lupin is Lucyanne, and the blue-flowered one Ludet.
• Meanwhile, George Milford and colleagues at Rothamsted Experimental Station continue research in conjunction with Dalgety on French-bred lupins. They are seeking dwarfing genes and tolerance of higher soil pH. The crop has a ready market for livestock feed and human consumption.