Early indications suggest pea and bean yields are well below average this season, with reports of variable quality and small seed.
This is in stark contrast to last year’s bumper yields, illustrated by the Recommended List yields for winter beans being 0.55t/ha above the five-year average of 4.71t/ha and spring beans being 19.2% above average.
Like cereals and oilseeds, the wet, spring weather in 2016 has had an adverse impact on yields.
Consequently, Roger Vickers, chief executive of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) says growers were possibly anticipating about 20% less than the norm in 2016.
The generally cold and wet spring, broken by a short heatwave in early July before returning to cool and damp conditions, is believed to have been the general cause, he suggests.
“Only in August has the country seen a prolonged warm drier spell and this came too late to help yields,” he says.
According to the PGRO, early winter bean samples have often been poor with small grain size, shrivelled skin texture and surface staining – fit only for feed. However, as always, there are also reports of good yield and quality.
Growers who remained on top of disease have generally fared better with more visually impressive samples and yields averaging about 5t/ha, says the PGRO.
One grower seeing good yields is Cambridgeshire farmer David Walston. His first field of Wizard winter beans yielded 5.5t/ha, not far from his farm record.
However, spring beans were more disappointing for Mr Walston, underperforming their winter counterparts at 4.5t/ha.
Spring beans finished, 4.5t/ha. Underperformed winter beans, don't think we'll bother with them again #harvest16
— David Walston (@OOOfarmer) August 24, 2016
Spring bean yields were lower for Twitter user “Farmer Nev”, who reported a yield of 3.7t/ha (30 hundredweight/acre) near Cirencester while in Norfolk, Kit Papworth says his spring beans have excellent quality and above average yield on his farm.
Moving to peas, PGRO says early pea quality is reported as variable, with big differences seen between sites and varieties in its variety trials.
Yields are 3-4t/ha compared with last year’s 5-6t/ha.
#PGRO RL pea trials'16 ave yields 3-4t/ha.Big variations- site and variety. Big decrease ex'15 yields of 5-6t/ha
— pgro (@pgroresearch) August 18, 2016