Soil is improved for spring beans

Soil conditions in many areas have improved following the spell of dry weather, and many spring beans are now drilled, reported Processors & Growers Research Organisation (PGRO) technical director Dr Anthony Biddle last week.

But on heavier land, under-surface drying has been slow and may need to be lifted before drilling can take place, he said. This may mean that drilling of beans is delayed.

"Try to plant spring beans before Easter. Temperatures are now increasing and, once planted, the beans should establish quickly," he advised growers.

According to Biddle, the wet end to the autumn and difficulties in early spring have left the surface of some ploughed-in fields of winter beans very uneven. If absolutely necessary, they can be harrowed or lightly spring-tined to level the surface to aid further operations.

He said growers should take care not to cultivate deeply, be prepared to bury some plants and need to watch sowing rates. High-density beans compete for light and nutrients, resulting in low yields and high disease risk. Optimum density for spring beans was 40 plants per square metre. For white and blue peas it was 75 plants and 65 plants for marrowfat varieties.

Biddle also added a note of caution on pre-emergence herbidcides: "They perform poorly on dry soil - applications are best made when the soil surface is moist or when rain is forecast."

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