By Ken Fletcher

IT HAS proved to be a difficult year for pea and bean growers in the UK, with weather woes and disease pressure making this year's Recommended Lists particularly variable.

According to Stephen Belcher, PGRO's principal technical officer: “Something that may or does change is a dictionary definition of variable – and it is a word that has been used more than once to describe the 2016 season and data obtained from trials.

"Recommended Lists are based on variable data and while individual trials may exhibit low variability, when combined to produce a five-year data set, variability creeps in. For instance, trials are in different seasons, geographic locations, soil types and weather conditions, all of which introduces variability.

"This was seen in 2015/16 when a mild and wet winter period in 2015 was followed by an unremarkable spring 2016 with temperatures and rainfall close to average.”

With combining peas, the overall 2016 trial yields at 3.79t/ha were well down on the five-year average of 4.81t/ha.

Five trials went through to harvest and while yields were generally lower, the trial near Harwich bucked the trend and gave the highest yields at 5.16t/ha. Trials varied greatly in the degree of lodging that occurred and were greatly influenced by bursts of heavy rainfall.

Of the white peas, Karpate, a new white-seeded pea from Senova, joins the RL with a P1 recommendation as the top yielding variety with a yield of 105% of controls, while Kareni, top yielder in 2015, moves to a second year of provisional recommendation.

Salamanca, Mascara and Gregor remain fully recommended.

From the large blues, the aptly named Bluetooth (LS Plant Breeding) joins Prophet, Daytona, Crackerjack and Campus as a fully recommended variety in that category.

Two, LG Stallion (Limagrain UK) and Vertix (Senova), join the list with a first year 'provisional' and LG Stallion topped the large blue yield rankings at 102% with Vertix 2% lower.

Kingfisher moves to a second year of provisional recommendation.

The small blue category makes a re-appearance on the RL with the addition of Greenwood (IAR Agrii) with a P1 recommendation.

Yields are 6% lower than Prophet, but while seed is smaller it is on the large side for a small blue. Standing ability rates at only 4, similar to Crackerjack.

The marrowfats Sakura and Genki remain fully recommended and top yielders in this category, Aikido moves to second year provisional recommendation.

With winter beans, a mild winter and vigorous growth gave rise to high levels of brackling, lodging and chocolate spot.

While only five of the nine trials went into the 2016 matrix, the 2016 yields at 5.73t/ha were 17% higher than the five-year average of 4.89t/ha.

Several candidate varieties were withdrawn from RL consideration by breeders, so there are no new additions to the RL.

In the pale hilum category, Tundra, Wizard and Honey remain as fully recommended varieties, while Bumble moves from P1 to P2 recommendation and joins Tundra as the top yielding pale hilum types at 104% of controls.

In the black hilum (feed) category, Arthur was moved to the becoming 'outclassed'.

All 10 spring bean trials were used in the 2016 matrix and the average of 5.67t/ha was marginally up on the five-year mean of 5.44t/ha.

The highest yielding site was in Kent (6.52t/ha), but several others yielded more than 6t/ha.

Pale hilum types, Vertigo, Fanfare, Fury, Fuego and Boxer, remain fully recommended, but new to the List with a P1 recommendation is LG Cartouche (Limagrain UK). Yields were just 1% lower than the best, but it only has a 4 (same as Fuego) rating for downy mildew resistance.

Lynx moves from P1 to P2 recommendation and joins Vertigo as a top yielding variety. As in 2015, it maintained a 7 rating for downy mildew resistance, the best amongst the pale hilum types.

Pyramid and Bablyon were removed from the RL.

The black hilum tic bean, Maris Bead, remains with a full recommendation.

Lynx – the healthy high yielder

THE NEW spring bean from LS Plant Breeding, Lynx, proved to be the highest yielding variety on the new List.

“Lynx produced the highest seed yields on the new PGRO spring bean Recommended List, equalled only by its stablemate, Vertigo,” commented Theo Labuda, LSPB's managing director.

“To add to its yield benefit, Lynx has the highest resistance to downy mildew, scoring another best with its impressive 7 rating, compared to 4’s for older varieties. Among its agronomic characters, Lynx has the highest equal standing ability at harvest.

“As for all beans, the message is to grow for quality and the premium human consumption export markets. With this in mind, Lynx is a pale hilum type with a good 1000-seed weight.

“LSPB’s involvement in pulse breeding also includes combining peas, with PGRO Recommended varieties such as Salamanca and Gregor white peas, along with Bluetooth and Campus large blues, figuring strongly in the PGRO Fully Recommended Lists – and P2 Recommended Aikido marrowfat as a variety to watch for the immediate future,” added Mr Labuda.