Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

Bean seed supplies running low due to renewed demand

There is renewed interest in the sowing of beans this season with the €250/ha protein aid payment, along with their potential to contribute to Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). As a result, bean seed is in short supply.

Ideally beans should not be grown any more than one year in six. This crop has long been established as an excellent break crop in cereal rotations. Beans are also a GM-free protein crop and generally a relatively low input crop that are suitable for heavy soil types.

There is no chemical nitrogen required and they help to build a reserve of nitrogen in the soil for the following crop, leading to significant yield benefits in the succeeding crop. Sowing date is important, preferably before the end of March. Beans are generally a 6-6.5 month crop, so late sown beans will be late harvested. The time of harvest is generally late August to early September. If weather conditions continue to improve, and if it is an early season, there will not be enough seed to meet demand. The trade estimates that there will be enough seed available to plant approximately 8,000ha, double what was planted in 2014. But there is potential to sow 12,000ha and still maintain the €250 premium.

Aim to establish 30-35 plants per square metre. This will require sowing 33-40 seeds per square metre or approximately 260kg/ha. Sowing to 10cm deep will help to prevent crow attack, while even deeper sowing to 12.5cm is recommended on vulnerable fields. Pre-emerge weed control is really the only effective method of broadleaf weed control. The most popular products are Nirvana and Lingo. Yields of 7.5t/ha are achievable, which leaves the crop creating more profit compared to most other crops.

There are reports of Bean Cyst Nematode being found in seed, particularly uncertified or imported seed. The use of certified seed is important to minimise risk. Certified seed guarantees seed free of Ascochyta and Bean Cyst Nematode and should always be considered.

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