Peas perform in dry conditions
Lincolnshire grower Edward Knight of James Knight Farms near Folkingham, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was very pleased with how well the large blue pea LG Aviator coped with the challenging dry conditions of 2022.

“They stood up nicely to combine and yielded 3.7t/ha,” he says.

“This is the first year we have grown LG Aviator peas, which will go to Limagrain UK for seed”.

“We are impressed with LG Aviator as a variety – it’s clean, vigorous and with the dry conditions we didn’t have to spend too much on it. We also bale the straw as the cattle like pea straw, so it’s a good value crop for us.”

Direct drilling peas

“We have grown pulses on and off for the last fifteen years, depending on where they fit in the rotation. We work the soil in the autumn with a Sumo trio, and then drill in the spring once soils have warmed up enough. For the first time, we direct drilled the peas using a Mzuri in an attempt to conserve as much soil moisture as possible – which worked well.”

Importance of disease resistance

Product_Category_Pulses_Will Pillinger_Pulses BreedingAt a time when farmers are looking carefully at crop inputs, a variety like LG Aviator should provide some much needed varietal security as it offers the best disease resistance package of any large blue pea variety, including powdery mildew resistance,” says Corrie Dekker, Assistant Pulse Breeder for Limagrain UK.

“The variety also exhibits a unique architecture with most of the pods near the top of the plant, which keeps them off the ground and makes for easier combining.”

For these reasons, Ms Dekker believes that LG Aviator will feature in generations to come and is why it has been significantly taken up by the industry.

Farm facts

JK Farms
Family Farm & Contracting
Wheat/Spring Barley
Wheat/Spring Barley

LG Aviator peas in summary


You can download the technical data sheet for LG Aviator peas here

New commercial manager for Limagrain UK
Matt Shand has been appointed to the role of Commercial Manager for Limagrain UK. This new opportunity will see him developing and implementing the UK commercial strategy for the seed business, whilst also leading the UK sales team.


Matt ShandLimagrain is a fast growing, farmer-owned international co-operative group, specialising in both agricultural and horticultural seeds, as well as cereal products. As the fourth largest plant breeder and seeds marketing company in the world, it employs 10,000 people with a turnover of more than 2.5 billion euros annually.

Mr Shand brings a wealth of experience to the position; he began his career in the seed industry at Woodhead Seeds in Yorkshire, before joining Limagrain as sales manager in 2016.

He believes that through its unique UK dedicated plant breeding and research teams, Limagrain is best placed of all the plant breeders to recognise and respond to many current UK crop production challenges.  

“Limagrain is at the forefront of bringing varieties to market that offer increased yields, stronger agronomic characteristics and better disease resistance, whilst end-users also benefit from added value, improved quality, productivity and processability.”

“The success of this approach is reflected in the number of varieties sitting at the top of the current AHDB Recommended List. Without a doubt it’s an exciting time for the business and I am very much looking forward to being a key part of the team taking this forward,” he says.

YEN Innovation Award winner
This year, to mark 10 years of the Yield Enhancement Network (YEN), a new Innovation Award has been commissioned which was presented at the YEN conference on 24th January. The award is for an outstanding contribution to on-farm innovation and has been sponsored by Limagrain.

“Limagrain has been an active supporter of YEN since its inception so it seems only fitting that we sponsored the Innovation Award for the 10th anniversary conference,” says Limagrain’s Arable Marketing Manager, Will Charlton.

“As a company that invests in UK based breeding activities for all major arable crops, innovation is a core value of our business. Alongside bringing new varieties to market, we invest a considerable amount of time and money in examining how our varieties perform in different farming systems. Over the years YEN has been invaluable in helping us facilitate this work by providing a structure and detailed analysis to aid Limagrain’s collaborations with innovative farmers across the country.”

The standard of nominations was exceptionally high with all the farmers demonstrating a passion for progress, learning and collaboration. However, there could only be one winner. The award was presented by Limagrain’s Arable Technical Specialist, Liam Wilkinson. 

Liam Wilkinson and Russ McKenzie

“I’m delighted to announce that Russ McKenzie, farm manager of DJ Tebbit and John Sheard Farms, has won the YEN innovation Award. Russ has demonstrated his commitment to YEN by being one of the few farmers to provide an entry every year since YEN began.

In particular, the judges were impressed by his recent on farm trials work which has sought to investigate fungicide, nutrition and variety interactions under his own establishment system, utilising the latest digital and molecular diagnostics, alongside a trials plot combine to analyse the results. The complexity of his trials required dedication and a significant time commitment throughout a busy growing season. The data generated has provided valuable insights into how different inputs interact and influence a farming system.”

Winter beans provide crucial protein source for Northumberland farmer
For Northumberland farmer, Wayne Bean of T Bean & Sons, growing his own livestock feed is key to maintaining profitability from his cattle and sheep.

Whole crop beans, maize, kale, forage rape, fodder beet and grain are grown for this purpose at Broad Oak Farm, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

“We are totally self sufficient in producing the ingredients for our rations. By growing our own feed, it puts us in control of our own costs as much as possible,” explains Wayne.

Wayne Bean Tundra winter beans PR_LR“We know the margins that we have to operate within between profit and loss, and this is particularly important when we buy cattle in, as it helps us to know our margins are fixed before starting.”

“It’s also important that in our cattle ration we include a protein source, as well as fibre, which whole crop beans provide.”

Beans became central to the rotation at Broad Oak Farm back in 2008, initially in response to a price hike in protein and nitrogen costs when 20 acres were drilled on a trial and now there is as much as 80 acres grown in any one season.

“Initially we grew spring beans, but have changed to winter varieties as we have found we can drill them into the heavier ground where maize can’t be grown as a break crop and weed control.”

“With our land being up to 1000 ft above sea level, conditions in the spring are unpredictable, so it takes the risk away.”

“We are now growing the variety Tundra. Whilst it’s not the highest yielding variety available, it has one of the highest protein contents which is key for us, and agronomically we like it for its good standing and earliness of maturity,” he says.

“We harvest the beans using a direct disc header on the forage harvester. We generally try to avoid using pod stick to keep costs down, as find that this approach helps us to reduce seed losses.”

“We aim to get the maize crop as dry as possible for high DM. The grain we grow is crimped and the whole crop beans go on top of the crimped grain in the clamp. We use an additive (Safesill), which is applied by the harvester and we usually wait for about 4-6 weeks before feeding.”

“It’s not the way that many would feed beans but it works very well for us!”

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and Limagrain Field Seeds forge a new path in plant breeding for pulses
Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) and Limagrain Field Seeds are excited to announce a new collaboration for pulse breeding in Saskatchewan, Canada.

This new collaboration has a strong commercial focus and will bring new and additional investment into pea and lentil breeding locally in Saskatchewan, increasing competition, and creating a strong
environment to foster innovation.

Developing new and better performing varieties of peas and lentils is the focus of the breeding collaboration. Farmers’ priorities and greatest production challenges are at the forefront of the breeding program, with major areas of focus including resistance to root disease in peas and lentils, increased protein content, and overall improvements in yield performance under varying conditions.

Breeding will take place in Saskatchewan for the benefit of Saskatchewan producers. “We are excited for this new direction in pulse breeding for farmers in Saskatchewan. It is important to continue fostering innovation and competition in pulse breeding and to bring new perspectives to challenging on-farm issues like root rots and herbicide resistance,” says Shaun Dyrland, Chair of SPG Board of Directors.

“We believe this new collaboration with Limagrain on pulse breeding will allow for targeting grower priorities and ensuring that growers’ direction and voices are at the table helping to drive new varieties.”

The new Limagrain Field Seeds breeding, and research program will be based in Saskatoon, where a dedicated pulse breeding team will be created, bringing new expertise in breeding, pathology, molecular genetics, and field trial evaluation to the region.

SASKATCHEWAN PULSE GROWERS AND LIMAGRAIN FIELD SEEDS FORGE A NEW PATH IN PLANT BREEDING FOR PULSESThis technology driven program will lead to higher performing varieties being made available to producers more quickly by deploying all available technology to both shorten the breeding cycle and accelerate seed production.

Commitment and Collaboration

“Limagrain is very committed to producing plant-based proteins. Saskatchewan is at the heart of global pulse production, so it makes perfect sense for Limagrain Field Seeds to extend its existing cereal breeding research in Saskatoon, and to now include these two pulse crops reinforcing our commitment to Saskatchewan,” remarked Régis Fournier, CEO of Limagrain Field Seeds.

“Collaboration is a core value for Limagrain and partnering with SPG, a fellow farmer-led organization is a crucially important component.”

Both SPG and Limagrain are farmer-led with farmer-based boards of Directors. This is an important pillar to this new collaboration, which was developed around shared values to support and foster profitable growth and opportunities for Saskatchewan farmers.

The collaboration has SPG and Limagrain sharing in upfront investments, with future royalties from the sale of new varieties to be shared. SPG will provide input on breeding priorities and ensure that farmers’ voices, needs, priorities, and challenges are driving the goals of the program every step of the way.

Benefits for European and UK pulse markets

Will Pillinger, pulse breeder for Limagrain UK believes European and UK markets can expect to see the benefits from this incredibly significant pulses breeding collaboration in the near future through combined technology and genetic diversity. Will Pillinger Pulses Breeder Limagrain UK “The partnership with Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), has increased our investment in genomic selection and specific trait related genetic markers for peas, beans and lentils.”

“This increased global pulse breeding will have an immediate impact on the ability for Limagrain UK to access accelerated improvements in yield, quality and disease resistance and it should not be too long before we see these attributes on UK farms.”


Focus on security and on-farm performance
Growers thinking of tapping into the evolving pulse crop market are being encouraged to explore the latest breeding lines being developed by plant breeders Limagrain UK

To meet the growing demand for protein crops, Mr Pillinger highlights the hard work being done by the Limagrain European breeding team to enhance the major traits in their varieties and introduce new ones using routine diagnostic marker assisted selection (MAS).

“This is being done at a high-tech facility in the Netherlands which allows the breeders to undertake rapid generation cycling.”

“Target traits sought for peas include reliable yields with consistently high protein levels, resistance to lodging, and tolerance and resistance to diseases. Cold tolerance without damaging the protein percentage is an important trait for growing in more northerly climates.”

“The new varieties are then put into schemes for extensive localised testing across light, medium and heavy soils in different locations,” he says.

This is a h2 heading

“The new varieties are then put into schemes for extensive localised testing across light, medium and heavy soils in different locations,” he says.

“Our testing builds a comprehensive data set and highlights which varieties are adapted to multiple environments, so we can identify the best high quality, stable varieties,” continues Mr Pillinger, adding that these extended trials also build understanding of optimum drill timings.

These techniques have helped Limagrain address some of the challenges of decline in performance observed in pulses seen over the last decade or so.

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“Some of the decline can be attributed to diseases such as soil-dwelling oomycete Aphanomyces euteiches and bacterial blight, and he highlights that there was a possibility that changes in disease strains and races had been brought on by climate change.

“Agricultural policy also influences grower choices and fluctuations in support makes the crop less interesting.

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Limagrain UK’s Pulse Breeding Programme

International cooperation showing positive results for Limagrain UK’s Pulse Breeding Programme

Limagrain’s pulse breeding programme focuses on winter and spring peas and beans. We are a multinational breeding team based in Europe and the UK and target a global pea and bean market.

Pulse breeding is centred in Rilland in the Netherlands, which is on the same line of latitude as London. The programme is spearheaded by pulses breeder Will Pillinger, along with his team consisting of Corrie Dekker (assistant breeder), Jaenet Ter Schure (assistant molecular breeder), Evelien Bakker-Breker (breeding assistant) and Lucie Collins (trials manager).

Major markets targeted include France, Germany and the United Kingdom, but we also breed for other markets within Europe and North America.

The EU Market for peas and beans is worth €10 million and the specific types of peas include green seeded types (€1.8m) for human consumption and yellow peas (€3m) for animal feed.

Field beans (€4.7m) make up roughly 1/3 of our breeding activities across spring and winter types, with our main market being the UK. Key traits for peas and beans are excellent agronomics, yield, quality and protein content.

The other targeted traits we look to develop include; resistance to lodging, Aphanomyces tolerance, tolerance to cold, Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew and FEBRUARY 2022 GatePost Pea Seed borne Mosaic Virus (PSbMV), maturity and plant architecture.

The core activities for breeding comprise of crossing, early generation selection and seed production. Although we have many breeding targets for peas, there are some specifics for the human consumption market that are key, such as excellent seed colour retention.

When harvested at the right time, peas will retain the blue green appearance. They will quickly lose their colour if not harvested or stored correctly.

In 2021, we entered 15 varieties into National Listing across Europe and the UK. For a small breeding programme, that is a significant number and gives an idea of the potential challenges of being successful in each target market. As a result, the pressure on the seed purification team can be high.

Further developments over the next couple of years will be the ability to measure yield performance of our breeding material during the first year of field assessment. Additionally, the development of techniques to predict the performance of material without testing in specific environments, will help to advance the output of high performance varieties from the pulse breeding programme.

We are excited about the future of pulses and Limagrain have backed the programme with significant investment to further modernise our activities.

Limagrain continue to support vining pea market


The demand for frozen peas has slightly increased in the last year, this may be down to more people cooking at home during lockdown, or perhaps a more health conscious nation. Either way, it is good news for the sector.

The Yes Peas! campaign has also greatly helped the cause with fantastic coverage for peas on This Morning with Holly and Phil, and articles in national publications such as the Mail and Hello! Magazine.

Limagrain UK were delighted to help support the social media campaign to promote Great British Pea Week back in 2021. By working in a close partnership with our French sister company, Vilmorin Mikado, Limagrain is breeding new varieties which provide improved disease resistance and higher yields.

Growers and processors are looking for varieties with a better agronomic package going forward, especially due to the loss of Wakil XL seed treatment. Limagrain are launching two new afila type vining pea varieties this year; LG Valiant and LG Infinity. LG Valiant is +8 maturity with excellent yield potential, resistance to powdery mildew and medium-to-small sieve size.

LG Infinity is very different because at +17, it would be one of the latest maturing vining pea varieties, which can offer growers a very attractive option. LG Infinity has moderate field resistance to downy mildew, is resistant to powdery mildew and has excellent yield potential.

Limagrain were pleased to host their annual Vining Pea conference in November 2021, attended by farmer groups, processors and agronomists.

The 2-day event included a presentation by Limagrain on their vining pea portfolio and production, a trip to Market Rasen racecourse and a tour of the seed plant at Holton-le-Clay.

It was fantastic to get all parts of the industry together again after the event was cancelled last year.