While 2016 pulse yields were down on last year and marketing difficulties persist, enthusiasm for growing the crops remains, according to the Pulse Growers Research Organisation (PGRO).
British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA) vice president, Franek Smith, says: “This year yields were down on 2015, an exceptional year, but people are finding pulses good gross margin contributors in a rotation.”
Pulse cropping has come back significantly from a 30-year low in 2013, says Roger Vickers, PGRO chief executive. “It is not back to its maximum but more or less back to normal.”
Mr Smith says 179,000ha (447,500 acres) of beans and 50,000ha (125,000 acres) of peas were grown in the 2016 harvest season, a considerable increase on the last two years. “Factors that could affect bean area in the future are a devalued pound making exports more competitive, rotation timing, a lack of alternatives, oilseed rape establishment problems and black-grass.”
However, competition from Baltic growers, quality issues associated with bruchid beetle and stem nematode activity and Egyptian currency issues have curtailed exports this season, particularly to key importer, Egypt. So far 100,000 tonnes of beans have been exported there, half the usual amount by this time, according to Mr Smith.
“However, the quality from the Baltics was not as good as expected and we should be able to come back into the market. Egypt had 100,000 tonnes of carryover so took a while to take new crop. Now hopefully it will pick up some pace.”
Meanwhile, large blue peas have seen buoyant demand, says Mr Smith. “More large blues than ever have been sold this year, tightening supplies in 2017 with some lucrative contracts around.”
The lower value of the pound against the euro has driven exports to Europe and International Year of Pulses has also encouraged sales, he adds.