British Edible Pulses Association (BEPA)uses of pulses

BEPA is the trade association representing the processors and users of British-produced pulse (mainly combining peas and field beans) crops. BEPA’s key objectives are to liaise with UK government and other national and international associations, & encourage the consumption of home-produced pulses by promoting their value as healthy, high-protein and high-fibre foods, and to liaise with crop scientists and plant breeders.

Andy Bury, President BEPAOur website brings you the history of BEPA, contact information for all our members, BEPA in the press and media, the latest pulse market prices, and an introduction to the many end uses for UK-produced pulses.

We also give details of the main BEPA contacts - if you would like to know more about BEPA, and the important role pulses play in the UK's agricultural and food sectors, please ask us!

Andy Bury, President

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BEPA Press Release (19.11.14)


The area of spring pulses grown in 2015 is likely to increase as growers turn to beans and peas to meet the new CAP greening requirements, manage blackgrass and mitigate falling oilseed rape prices.

“Recently, the area of pulses grown in the UK has fallen from its traditional level,” says Andy Bury, President of BEPA ( British Edible Pulses Association). “However, this season, as growers look for the most practical ways to meet the 5% EFA requirement in CAP greening, we are likely to see the area increase by up to 30%, returning to more usual levels.

“Some commentators are expressing the view that increased acreage will put downward pressure on prices, but that should not be a concern. Prices will be slightly lower, but there will still be a substantial premium over wheat. The significant advantage is that this will bring more buyers into the market and increasing demand will bring new opportunities for growers.

“Demand from UK compound mills for ruminant and pig rations is likely to return, and this is coupled with demand likely to rise in southern Spain and Italy. Additionally, as feed bean prices get closer to wheat values, demand from the aquaculture sector is increasing - salmon farming in Scotland and Norway requires a substantial supply of de-hulled beans and this is set to increase as the salmon market grows between 3-6% per year in UK waters.

“The major exporters of pulses for human consumption also see a growing market. Continuing market growth in North Africa, where pulses are a staple of the diet, is fuelled by population increases of between 1.8 and 2.5% a year.

“The UK, France and Australia are the only three countries that grow beans for human consumption for the Egyptian market. A combination of spraying restrictions and quality issues in France in the last two years means that their acreage is likely to reduce, again offering opportunities for UK growers. UK spring beans always haven seen as premium product over French. 

“The starting point for growers should always be the end market and variety choice is paramount. Ideally, growers should aim for the human consumption market as there is a marked price differential between that and feed. Two new spring bean varieties have been recently introduced which give the grower increased yields as well a large seed size ideal for the export market.

“For peas, 2015 market values will be at least £300/tonne for marrowfats, against just £160 for feed peas. Large blues are also likely to be plentiful, so we would expect values to be close to £200 tonne.  If you are considering peas, it is important to make sure that the seed supply is secured as there is only a limited amount available for planting in spring 2015.

“Current feed bean contracts offer a premium of around £30-35/tonne over November wheat futures. Additionally there will be premiums, dependant on quality, where beans reach the specification for human consumption.

“To achieve the best market value, beans must have a good appearance. Moisture content and admixture are factors, but the main quality decisions are based on the look of the beans. They should be clean and bright with a slight greenish hue, not stained or wrinkled. Larger beans are preferred, as are beans of uniform size.

“Beans with visual impairments will achieve a lower price – and bruchid holes are a particular problem. Care should be taken to avoid broken and damaged beans - setting up the combine correctly will help to avoid this, as will care during the drying process as augers can scar and mark the beans.

PGRO Crop Update (06.11.14)

Winter beans
Establishment and seed rates
Sowing and seed bed conditions have been good for winter beans, and growers are advised to drill beans into a minimum depth of 3-5 inches. Don’t delay drilling now if conditions are right. Check thousand grain weight and aim for 18 to 28 plants established per square metre depending on variety. Dense crops of winter beans are more likely to suffer from disease and early lodging.  As a general recommendation a final target of 18 to 20 plants/m² is the optimum for winter beans, which produce several stems.  Recent work by Wherry & Sons has indicated there may be a varietal yield response to population and these are shown in the table below.  A 15 to 20% field loss is assumed when planting beans in the autumn depending on early or later sowing.

Typical final target plant populations
Type Varieties Population plants/m²
Winter Beans General 18-20
Wizard, Arthur
Honey, Sultan
Spring beans All 35-45

The seed rate can be calculated from the following formula:

Seed rate kg/ha =
thousand seed rate x target
populations plants/m²


% germination 100 – (field loss)

There may be additional interest in pulses following the changes to the common agricultural practice in 2014, and particular attention should be given to seed quality and sowing conditions.
Seed quality
Laboratory tests at PGRO indicate that around 20% of winter bean samples tested from the 2013 harvest are infested with stem and bulb nematode, a persistent soil and seed-borne pest, surviving for up to 10 years in soil. Do not to use seed that is infested with stem nematode as there is no chemical means of control once the pest is established and control is based on extending the rotation to avoid planting beans for 10 years. Ensure that all farm-saved seed is tested for nematodes before use.
Seed should also be tested for Ascochyta seed-borne disease, which can affect yield and quality.
PGRO can carry out both tests and any enquiries can be made by calling 01780 782585.
Herbicide applications
Winter beans offer a good opportunity to tackle black-grass populations using Crawler or Kerb. However, early drillings followed quickly by pre-emergence sprays may not fully benefit from Kerb applications, which works better under cooler conditions associated with later applications. Pre-emergence herbicides have a variable but limited time of activity which starts to decrease from the time of application. Winter beans can be in the ground for a long time before the crop is at an appropriate growth stage for post-emergence bentazone, which is less effective in cool conditions. For this reason it may be worth considering keeping an eye on drilled crops and weather forecasts, and delaying pre-emergence applications for as long as reasonably possible. This may extend the effectiveness of applications. This approach offers a chance to move the period of weed control so it is more valuable but does require increased attention to crop and weather conditions and is not without risk.