Amid short supplies and high prices for spring bean seed, as growers consider their spring cropping options following a season when many winter crops have not been sown or have failed to establish, some are asking how late winter beans can be sown.
Steve Belcher of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation says late February or early March is acceptable but he does not recommend going beyond the end of March. Work done at PGRO in the wet 2012/13 drilling season shows winter variety Clipper yielded 4.55 tonnes/hectare when sown at 36 plants/sq.m in late February/early March. This compares with 5.77t/ha when Clipper was sown in early-mid October. Spring variety Fuego sown at 40 plants/sq.m yielded 5.01t/ha. “There is a yield penalty but perhaps not quite as much as we would expect.
“If growers have winter beans sat in the barn and enough seed to push up to 45-50 plants/sq.m it is probably the best thing to do, but this work only went up to 36 plants/sq.m,” says Mr Belcher.
Ian McCartney, who farms at Hutton Wandesley in North Yorkshire, including some heavy land, plans to grow 115ha of beans. He bought winter bean seed but has not yet drilled it.
He says: “I will try to drill winter beans ‘in spring’ and compare them with spring beans. I will drill winter beans at a higher rate of 40 plants/sq.m.”
In total for his bean crop he plans to grow 90 per cent spring beans and 10 per cent winter beans and to drill spring beans up until mid-April, leaving any bean land he is unable to drill before this date fallow.