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Growing field beans in Ireland: agronomic practices and current issues

Growing field beans in Ireland: agronomic practices and current issues

Sheila Alves, Teagasc, Oak Park

Field beans are well-suited to the Irish climate with a relatively high yield potential. However, despite sectoral supports in the form of a protein payment the bean area remains low. To capture grower’s experiences a 3 year survey of field bean crops, 2018-2020 (Project Opti-BC – SRI/DAFM) in c. 20 farms/year plus a farmers’ online survey on the crop’s growth and development conducted in 2020 (Project Legumes Translated – H2020/EU) has provided good insight on current agricultural practices and issues in managing the crop. Weather and emerging diseases and pests have been a primary determinant in the lower performance of the crop over the last three seasons, while sowing date, soil nutrition, varietal selection and seed rate were also factors that require careful consideration in order to maximise yield. Oak Park research confirms that winter field beans have a greater capacity to withstand dry periods occurring between May and July, in contrast to spring field beans, which are more susceptible to periods of drought stress.  In regard to spring sown beans, delayed sowing (from April) will result in a yield penalty, while the selection of the sowing rate should consider the past field’s productivity and its location (i.e., temperature and precipitation patterns).