Poor germination and stem nematode hit field bean seed

Germination quality of field beans is worse than usual this year, according to latest results from NIAB.

Just 25% of samples tested at the Cambridge-based lab had germination above 80%, and around 60% showed some level of dormancy, compared with nearer 40% normally, NIAB’s seed specialist, Jane Taylor explained.

“Within those that have shown some dormancy, the level has also been much higher than usual,” she said.

“It’s partly due to the unusual season we’ve had, but also the fact we’ve tested bean samples around two weeks earlier than usual. Dormancy in bean seeds falls over time and I expect that it will pretty much disappear by Christmas.”

Together with higher dormancy, mechanical and insect damage had also been an issue this year, she said.

Stem nematode infection was the main worry for farmers looking to use home saved seed and so far 26% of samples tested had some level of nematode infection, NIAB plant pathologist David Kenyon said.

“…while the majority of these have only had low levels of infection, these should not be used for seed,” he advised.

“The past few years have seen relatively low numbers of seed lots with a stem nematode problem, but the high soil moisture through the summer and autumn allowed the nematode to move between plants, leading to higher levels of seed infestation.”

Any growers worried about germination or disease in beans are advised to get samples tested. NIAB’s standard bean test package costs £67.75 and includes Ascochyta, stem nematode, germination and thousand seed weight.