Field bean crops have yet to be combined in northern parts of England and the Scottish borders. Affected farmers are faced with a difficult decision of what to do with crops that are rapidly declining in quality.
Northern Frontier advisor, John Speed says: “It is mainly the Borders and parts of the Tyne Valley which have been affected.
“Areas which were drilled late have had little opportunity to harvest over the last six weeks due to poor ground conditions.”
Northern Frontier agronomist, Andrew Roy adds: “Most of the really late crops were drilled in late April or even early May, which is much too late.”
A particularly wet autumn left little opportunity for harvest but also prevented beans ripening in good time.
Yorkshire agronomist, Patrick Stephenson says: “The main reason for not getting been crops harvested has been problems in ripening in September and October. Since then, we have had a lot of wet weather.
“In some cases pods are now opening and beans dropping out. If the weather changes to cold or at least dry, growers will be tempted to try and harvest.
“Yields will be hit considerably now, maybe as much as one tonne per acre. Some small areas will be written off and reluctantly more as the days go by.”
Farmer, Jonathan Reid who farms in the Scottish borders is considering ploughing 45 hectares (111 acres) of field beans.
Mr Reid says: “We have had an enormous amount of rain this autumn, some torrential which has left many pods on the ground. If we are unable to harvest, it will be an opportunity to put some nutrients back into the ground to feed the next crop.”
As well as yield reductions, bean quality has also reduced. While this will have consequences on the bean tonnage going for human consumption, it is unlikely to be an issue for the animal feed market.
Roger Vickers, Chief executive of PGRO says: “Quality has been a major problem for many who took a late harvest. Even the colour of the very best quality beans will slowly deteriorate in storage.
“Wet beans and beans that had to be extensively dried are likely to oxidise much quicker making their suitability for the human market more doubtful as winter progresses.”