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.

BEPA President, Chris CollingsOur 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!

Chris Collings, President

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PGRO CROP UPDATE No7: 4th August 2015

Combining pea desiccation
If you are considering desiccating combining peas with diquat the correct stage of application is important. Moisture content should be between 40-45% when the crop is turning yellow, bottom pods are parchment-like and the seed is hard. Middle pods should be pitted and crinkled, pods becoming parchment-like with rubbery seeds within. Top pods will still be fleshy and green/yellow. If peas are for human consumption please consult your processor before using any wetter with diquat.

If desiccation takes place too early when insufficient lignification has taken place the haulm can collapse, the crop lodges and yield may be affected.

Intervals between desiccation and harvest will vary depending upon the weather. Following applications of diquat, crops are usually ready for combining 7 – 10 days later. Glyphosate is available pre-harvest to control excessive green weed growth but work at PGRO has shown it has little desiccant action in peas. Generally at least 7 days should elapse between application and harvest and average moisture content before application should be below 30%. Pre-harvest glyphosate should not be used on seed crops. For further information see PGRO technical update number 27.

Field bean desiccation
As well as increasing production costs there may also be loss of crop from the passage of the sprayer. Desiccation will not advance seed maturity and has a slow effect on green stems. However if the crop is infested with green weedy material or has a few late set pods which are still green, application of a desiccant will aid combining.

Application before the correct stage of maturity may result in reduced yield or loss of seed quality. The most widely used material is diquat. A non-ionic surfactant can be added. Apply when 90% of the pods are dry and black and most of the seed is dry. At this stage most of the leaves have senesced and fallen but the stems are still green. The contact action is fast and harvesting can be carried out 4-7 days later. It can be used on crops for animal feed, human consumption or seed.

Glyphosate can be used as a pre-harvest treatment to control perennial weeds. It must not be used on crops destined for seed.

Black bean aphid pressure is still high in bean crops although many field beans will be past the stage where yield impact is likely. Where pods are still filling in field beans or broad beans, aphicides should be applied when 10% plants are infested.

Sclerotinia in vining peas and green beans
Sclerotinia infection in vining peas has been relatively high in 2015 and the risk will remain high in areas where warm, humid conditions are being experienced. Late crops of vining peas and dwarf French beans continue to be susceptible to infection. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum affects a wide range of crops including vegetables, potatoes, linseed, oilseed rape and sunflowers as well as spring beans and peas (winter beans are affected by Sclerotinia trifoliorum).

Individual or groups of plants may be infected in discrete areas in the field. This is usually noticed in early to mid-summer when weather has been wet and warm. Stems become covered in white mycelium and may collapse as the infection develops. Infected stems and pods may contain black resting bodies, sclerotia, which are returned to the soil where they can remain for several years. As well as crop yield loss, pea and bean produce may be contaminated with sclerotia which are difficult to remove in factory processes.

Sclerotia in the soil produce small apothecia which release spores into the air. These adhere to stems or flower petals and infection invades the plant tissue. A rotation of 4 or 5 years without a host crop will help to reduce disease risk and, where the disease is expected, a preventative fungicide should be applied during flowering. Trials have shown that Switch, and Amistar at full rate, give good control of sclerotinia in vining peas and dwarf french beans.


“Harvest began in great conditions even though recent weeks have brought catchy weather,” comments Roger Vickers, Chief Executive of PGRO. “Samples of peas and beans so far seen by the trade have generally been good - and there is a welcome increase in both quality and quantity of marrowfat peas.

“While poor conditions at harvest can adversely affect quality - peas in particular can be quick to bleach and discolour - the majority of the UK pea crops are now in store, those remaining inevitably being further north.

“Winter beans are approximately 50% harvested - but the spring crop has barely begun - perhaps just 5% has been cut. Despite the recent rains, conditions have not yet affected the quality of the majority of bean crops - winter bean samples with a bright tan finish and a hint of green colour have been the norm with less than average bruchid beetle damage.”

Mr Vickers points out it is still too early for definitive comment on the outcome of harvest as a whole with crops yet to be cut and so many samples to be evaluated. Crops have looked good all through the growing season and early indications are optimistic for yields above average, though in the case of marrowfat peas a few percentage points may have been lost with premature senescence during the peak of the heat in July, and peas in the south east may have yielded a little lower than anticipated.

Chris Collings, President of BEPA, points out that as with all crops, when prices fall, yield and quality remain the key to maintaining margins: “With harvest not complete, and the trading year only just starting, there is a long way to go and much can change. Growers yet to combine should prioritise achieving good quality to the last cut of harvest.

“Looking at feed beans, the base value has followed wheat futures down, however, significant premium remains. Currently, ex farm values hover around £130/tonne. At this level there has been considerable interest from the feed compounders for use in cattle and pig diets, displacing rape and soya meal. Buyers have shown a real appetite for the product and would appear to have laid a sustainable base for the market. This is excellent news for the market for both the current crop, and that of 2016.”

For human consumption beans, uncertainty around availability and quality from other markets remains. However, the UK crop is still in demand and the issue slowing brisk trade is the availability of currency for payment. Combined with UK produce quality being good so far, the supply and demand situation is likely to put downward pressure on premiums in the short term, currently running at circa £20-£25/tonne.

Marrowfat peas remain in demand with prices ranging from £300 - £330/tonne ex depending upon quality and it is thought that this value will be maintained.

Large blue pea prices suffered towards the end of the trading of crop 2014 and they remain under pressure. Low quality peas - typically bypassed vining peas - put a base price in the feed market discounted below feed beans at circa £120/tonne ex. With some excellent blue pea yields, with many over 5t/ha and some reported at circa 7t/ha, there is significant downward pressure. Prices range between £140-£160/tonne ex depending upon quality - but for really poor crops the feed pea price beckons.

“As for all pulse crops, we continue to stress that margins are dictated by yield and quality,” adds Mr Collings.