Growers will be able to plant winter beans this spring, but the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) warns that they will need to plan for differences in maturity dates and yield.
The organisation says it has received a flood of calls from farmers who still have winter seed in the shed, having had to abandon drilling last autumn. While this seed can be sown, research shows that rates will have to be increased to counter the yield impact, and maturity may take up to 12 days longer in the east of England.
Field trials for this were last carried out in 2013, following another wet autumn. Principal technical officer Stephen Belcher drilled winter beans in the spring with four populations planted at three sites on three different sowing dates.
These indicated that beans sown at 18 plants per square metre could be grown in the spring, but on average there was a 34% yield reduction. This penalty was reduced by 18% when the seed rate was doubled.
Spring-sown winter seed also took between seven and 12 days longer to reach maturity.
Stephen said: “The situation has prompted many calls to the PGRO regarding the viability of using winter bean seed in the spring, and it is absolutely a viable option for growers, but they should expect a lower yield and later maturity than if autumn sown.
“Based on the work carried out in this area, our guidance is to treat the crop very much like a spring bean and to increase the plant population to around 36-40 plants/m2.”
For more information go to www.pgro.org