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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PGRO Pulse Market Update

Crop Overview

With old crop 2014 essentially long since finished, the 2015 crop is eagerly anticipated. Growing conditions for most of the UK have been almost ideal since the crops were sown. Temperatures have been warm without being too hot, and regular rain has ensured the crops have generally developed without any significant stress. As a result, many crops have relatively shallow root systems, not having had to follow the moisture through the soil profile. This poses a potential risk for grain filling if a prolonged hot dry spell is now encountered. The moist mild conditions have also been ideal for both pests and disease. Pest and disease control and attention to detail at harvest time will now be key to ensuring good quality grains and yield for all pulses.

CAP Reform

The announcements have been favourable for pulse growers, with peas and beans qualifying for both diversification measures and Ecological Focus Area status (1ha pulses counts as 0.7ha for EFA purposes). The message from the trade is that growers plumping for pulses should focus very hard on producing good quality produce.


Contracts for growing pulse crops 2015 have been in strong demand and uptake swift during the late spring with growers forward planning their rotations and securing the pea and bean varieties of preference.

Markets are expanding and new markets are developing for UK produced peas and beans. Good quality is needed to both secure and cement the UK’s reputation for quality at home and abroad. Poor quality produce will struggle to find a home and will in all probability suffer a significant price penalty.

PGRO is available and ready to assist growers with their concerns and enquiries about agronomy and how to achieve both optimum yield and good quality produce. A significant increase in crop area will inevitably result in a downward pressure on price. However, this is all relative to other commodity grains and, in this respect, pulses have held up remarkably well, continuing to hold a significant premium forwards.

A lower market value also represents an opportunity, as with lower prices demand will also increase. Local buyers are set to return more robustly in animal feed and in aquaculture. Brand new markets are also opening in snack foods and alternative uses for pulse flour and protein are applied.

Feed beans

Currently trading ex 2014 crop at a £70 premium over feed wheat ahead of harvest. For growers seeking to put a base in their marketing, this seems like a tremendous opportunity given the general fall being seen in other commodity prices. How long this premium will be sustained is uncertain.

Contracts are already being taken for crop 2015 crop with premiums of £40 over feed wheat. Again representing a significant opportunity to secure a competitive base price from which to work.

Human consumption beans

Export markets remains full, amply supplied by Australian produce until the European crop is harvested. The prospects for the market, however, remain strong and demand is almost certain to continue to rise in the main export markets of North Africa and the Arabian crescent.

The key to enabling the UK trade to retain and further develop the potential of these markets will be having plenty of good quality produce available. Premiums for human consumption will be driven by availability and, whilst there is no trade currently, typically £15 - 20/t is available. Rising currency will present challenges to exporters with exchange rates at USD1.7/ £ making imports more expensive for customers.

Combining Peas

Marrowfat peas are sold out and the new crop will start with a premium for good quality samples. Forward prices at around £350/t are available.

Quality blue peas will also be in demand at over £250/t but the penalty for a poor sample will be significant- colour retention is critical to obtaining the best margins.

Yellow peas are very vulnerable to intense price pressure from European production and Canadian sources and take a very small market share. Growers of yellow peas would be well advised to obtain a contract before deciding to produce.





PGRO-Peas-ready-for-desiccation-Tops-of-plants-and-pods-still-green-and-fleshy“Ideally, both combining peas and field beans are direct combined without the need for desiccation as this adds to costs and application causes crop loss,” advises Jim Scrimshaw, PGRO Principal Technical Officer. “However, this is not always possible, and some crops which are weedy and/or are ripening unevenly will benefit from the timely use of an appropriate product to maintain quality.


“When it comes to choosing a chemical desiccant in peas and beans, the choice is generally between glyphosate and diquat, primarily these will be the ones considered here. There are, however, glufosinate ammonium products also approved.


“Don’t forget that desiccants bring the prospective harvest date forward - they don’t speed up seed maturity. The chemical terminates growth when development is complete allowing a smoother harvest; and harvest planning and can prevent the setting of weed seed.”


Both glyphosate and diquat are non-selective materials Diquat is a true desiccant whilst glyphosate is more a pre-harvest herbicide. A true desiccant rapidly kills above ground growth of both crop and weeds allowing rapid drying and earlier harvest (between 3-7 days after application). It will not give long-term weed control -  particularly of perennials - whereas glyphosate will.


Where persistent perennial weeds are a problem, glyphosate is the product of choice as it is a translocated herbicide acting on plant meristems. Crop effects take longer to materialise and harvest is brought forward more slowly (10 -14 days) compared to diquat.


Glufosinate ammonium products are mainly contact acting, but there is some translocation within the leaves. Crops are ready to harvest 10 -14 days after application.


A good coverage of diquat on crop and weeds is essential and it works best when the crop is beginning to senesce. Activity is dependent on temperature and UV light levels while glyphosate needs plants to be actively growing for the best effect.


Timing of the applications is very important. If desiccation takes place too early then effects can be uneven, stems can de-lignify and crops collapse reducing recoverable yield. Quality may suffer – this is more of a problem with peas - possibly increasing undersized grain and greater chances of shelling out due to the longer delay before combining. Diquat tends to work better on dicot plants (peas and beans) and glyphosate on monocots (cereals).


“Applications of diquat should be made to pea crops which are turning yellow. The bottom pods should be parchment like and the seed hard; pods in the middle should be becoming parchment like, the seed rubbery and squeezable between finger and thumb without splitting; top pods should still be fleshy green /yellow with seed that splits when squeezed.


“If glyphosate is to be used, a crop moisture content of around 30% is suggested before application.


“Desiccation has a slow effect on the relatively thick green stems of field beans and applications should be made when 90% of pods are dry and black. It is suggested that in beans glyphosate should be used specifically as a pre-harvest treatment to control perennial weeds.


“And remember that neither glyphosate or glufosinate ammonium products should be used on crops intended for seed”, adds Jim Scrimshaw.