12th September 2022

2017 BEPA Winter Bean Champion

The annual competition invites all BEPA members to submit samples of pulses, these are then judged anonymously by a panel of 6 judges, all of whom are representatives from the Human Consumption pulse industry. The samples are judged based on their suitability for the human consumption market.

Sunderlandwick Farms is a family farm, managed by Robin Smyth, who is the 3rd generation to run the farm. The mixed farm is approximately 590ha in total, 440ha of which is cropped with arable crops: wheat; spring barley; oilseed rape and winter beans with the remaining land in ELS and HLS schemes as well as permanent pasture for the 150 suckler cows. The farm is on heavy land with a mixture of Burlingham and Holderness clays. Robin has been growing winter beans for seed on the farm for over 25 years for Nickerson/Limagrain, and has more recently moved to growing Limagrain’s own variety Tundra. The agronomy on the farm is carried out by Dale Senior of J K Senior and Sons, with all the expertise on cultivations, spraying and harvesting coming from the farm team of Ian Berriman, Pete Hall and James Hinde.

The beans are established by ploughing the seed into a depth of 4-6 inches, aiming for 25 seeds per square metre to give a target population of 17 plants established per square metre. The crop is then treated with a robust insecticide and fungicide programme to ensure pests and diseases such as pea and bean weevil and chocolate spot are kept to a minimum. This year, the decision was made not to use a pre-harvest desiccant, as it was felt it wasn’t necessary.

The beans were harvested between 30th August to 3rd September at moistures ranging from 16.3-16.9%, using a vario header equipped with side knife. Harvested yields adjusted down to 15% moisture were 6.67t/ha for the seed crop over 32.00 ha, and 6.16t/ha for a crop of commercial Tundra over 39.80ha. Overall Tundra yields for the 2017 harvest were 6.39 t/ha (2.58t/ac), and the gross margin after variable costs was £969.63. The highest individual yield (adjusted to 15%) achieved on one 21.65ha parcel was 6.92 t/ha (2.80t/acre). Yield maps indicate that the heavier soils contributed to areas of higher yield.

The yields were a farm record exceeding the previous 2008 record yield of 6.12t/ha. The 10 year average for winter beans on the farm is 4.96t/ha (2.00t/acre).

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