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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In the UK, EU CAP reform announcements have continued to further stimulate already strong interest in the 2015 crop. This political announcement is on top of the well-rehearsed agronomic benefits, issues associated with short rotation cereals/oilseed rape and falling commodity values. Pea contracts are generally full until after harvest. Certified seed availability may limit the rate of expansion for at least a couple of seasons and help minimise spikes in the market. Bean contracts are also selling well and some forecast winter beans to come back to a level of circa 65,000ha in 2015.

French beans look like being of better quality this year and will again compete in the export market. Eastern regions suffered lower yield in dry conditions, but with their earlier availability than UK produce, it will remain to be seen whether the markets prefer the UK quality. French pea production is mainly yellow peas and therefore competes less with UK marrowfat and blue pea production but nonetheless puts a base price in the market for pea products. Early pea harvests were good but some heavy rains caused losses.

Canadian pea exports are set to rise with increased demand from China and the USA. However, high stocks are anticipated and will push pea prices downwards. Green peas are anticipated to retain their premium over yellows. Increased demand is expected from India during the next 12 months. Crop 2015 is expected to increase significantly - possibly up to 21% (1.6 million ha) due to the recognition of the benefits of peas in the rotation and their relative value to other commodity crops. Despite this, yields are forecast to return to a lower level.

USA forecast for 2014-15 that dry peas will rise 8% above the current harvest high to 0.78 million tonnes.

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.

A significant increase in crop area will inevitably result in a downward pressure on price, however, it is important to stress that this is 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 aquaculture - also, brand new markets are opening in snack foods and alternative uses for pulse flour and protein are applied.

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.

Feed beans

Crops continue to grow in the warm moist conditions and some early sown winter beans have ‘brackled’ in the recent strong winds, which may cause a problem with quality and yield if the plants suffer drought stress before the seeds are mature.

It is a static market with buyers reluctant to commit ahead of the crop and with uncertainty in the supply chain. As a result of the grain and oil seed rape markets falling dramatically, feed beans have followed accordingly affecting the spring bean value respectively. Feed beans prices are currently around £185 ex with little interest.

Human Consumption beans

Export markets remain quiet and the market appears to be waiting for Ramadan and the festival of Eid (the religious holiday celebrated by Muslims that marks the end of Ramadan) to end at the beginning of August. As a result, trading is sluggish and values appear to be sliding a little as a result. Spring beans do, however, now command a premium of £15-20 over feed. Importers can see significant stocks in the local market and cargos from Australia have been larger than the previous year. French crop is being offered in the Egyptian market at US$480/T bulk delivered. Bruchid levels will be determined after harvest when all round quality can properly be evaluated.

Currency values will present challenges to exporters with exchange rates at USD1.7/ £ making imports more expensive for customers.

Combining Peas

Harvest started mid July and it appears that there will be some by-passed vining peas making their way into the early dry pea market too. Most pea crops in the southeast have been desiccated, and despite the regional downpours, subsequent dry weather should see them fine.

Quality is expected to be good, but locally yield and quality may have suffered if caught with poor weather. With harvest underway, the markets are changing as expected but with very few samples to guide at present, markets will change in the forthcoming weeks.

The blue pea market is currently being affected by cheap Canadian imports. Superior samples with good colour can command a premium of around £40 at +/-£280/t ex, but low grade and pale blues will be very difficult to market and at a discount £100/t. Once more samples have been seen and a better feel for the quality and yield of this season’s crop is gauged, the market will fluctuate accordingly.

Marrowfat peas are strong with nil stocks. Good quality samples will command circa £325-350/t

Agronomy note


With dry weather and hot temperatures - combined with humid nights - conditions are ideal for the development and spread of bean rust and disease pressure is high.
 Rust spreads rapidly and quickly defoliates bean plants. If pods are still filling it is worth spraying.
Products based on Chlorothanil / cyproconazole and tebuconazole give control.
Treat as soon as seen.


Growers should focus on harvest timing. Peas need to be taken when the majority of the crop is ready. Harvesting with slightly higher than ideal moisture and drying back will help preserve the all-important colour. Beans too should be taken as soon as ready to preserve the bright, pale skin finish which will deteriorate if left in the field. They may stand, but there is a real risk of quickly losing any quality premiums.




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.