Spring bean yields have topped 6t/ha on one Lincolnshire estate with the crop starting to compete financially with first crops of winter wheat.
The variety Vertigo has just yielded 6.62t/ha using home-saved seed and applying no herbicides on the Revesby Estate at the southern end of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Farm manager Peter Cartwright budgets for a yield of 5.5t/ha, but he cut a 10ha field on 3 September after it was direct drilled into a cover crop and then produced the high yield.
The method of growing an overwinter cover crop of spring oats ahead of spring beans worked well the 10ha fertile field of a medium clay loam, some 10 miles north of Boston.
“The main reason for the high yield was a good soil structure while the oats help recycle phosphate to assist with the root development of the spring beans,” he told Farmers Weekly.
The spring oats cover crop was sprayed off with glyphosate in the spring and then he direct drilled the spring beans on 18 March, applied phosphate and potash fertiliser, along with two fungicides and two insecticides.
This is the fourth year of growing the crop on the estate, and in the three previous seasons the spring beans have made the premium-priced human consumption market, and with very low input costs the crop is close to matching the gross margin of winter wheat.
Spring beans are now a key part of the arable rotation on the 1,000ha arable land of the in-house farmed estate with 50% of the land down to winter wheat, 25% to oilseed rape and remainder to spring crops of beans, sugar beet or oats.