Growers urged to book spring bean seed to beat shortage

Spring pea and bean growers are being urged to order seed early to avoid disappointment following a poor harvest, with the situation being especially acute for spring bean seed.

Low yields caused by a late spring and dry summer have led to the seed shortage, while the summer drought caused seed splitting at harvest which may reduce seed germination.

Chris Guest, seed manager at supplier Gleadell, says there will definitely be a shortage of spring bean seed for next year, and this will lead to a reduced area of the crop next spring.

“The area of spring beans will clearly be down, based simply on the lack of availability of seed,” he told Farmers Weekly.

See also: Spring beans outperform oilseed rape on heavy Essex land

Supplies of popular spring bean varieties such as Lynx, Fanfare, Vertigo and Fuego are likely to be short next spring, and growers are being urged against waiting until January to order seed.

Germination test

Although the true quality of spring bean seed is unclear, growers planning to use home-grown seed are being urged to test for germination and vigour before drilling.

David Bouch, seed manager at agronomy group Hutchinsons, adds that there are likely to be tight supplies of most spring seeds, but the situation is most relevant for spring pulses.

“We’re not expecting a widespread shortage of all spring seed, but demand is certainly likely to outweigh supply for some of the preferred varieties,” he says.

Demand for spring pulse seed is likely to be increased by oilseed rape growers who have ripped up their crops because of cabbage stem flea beetle damage and are now looking for a spring alternative crop.

Like spring pulses, the volume of spring barley seed is expected to be down due to the impact of hot weather on the quality of seed crops last season, so again growers are being advised to order soon.