Science into Practice: New bean crop opportunities

Both flageolet beans and edamame soya beans could offer pea and bean growers opportunities to develop new crops for both the processing and fresh market industry. Both beans would bring high-protein, high-phytochemical new vegetables to the table.

HDC project FV 329 aimed to identify varieties that can be successfully grown in the UK together with information on density and harvest timings. Both of these new bean crops could be of particular interest to existing vining pea or combining pea growers as well as green bean growers who have the necessary machinery for drilling and harvesting. They could also appeal to existing fresh market growers of legume crops and to organic growers.

Flageolet beans proved the easiest to produce at all stages of harvest — green or dry — and the yields were commercially viable for both. Flagrano was the earliest and heaviest-yielding (up to 8-9 tonnes/ha) of the four varieties trialled in 2008. The same range of pesticides is available for flageolet as for green beans.

Edamame soya beans can be successfully grown in the UK (three varieties out of the original 10 screened in 2007), but harvesting is more challenging. The crop can be harvested by a conventional pea viner for processing or the beans can be picked in their pods either by hand or with a green bean harvester.

It is the mechanical shelling that remains difficult for the fresh market, although suitable podding machines exist in the Far East. Growers can expect pod yields of up to 7 tonnes/ha and bean yields of up to 4 tonnes/ha. Herbicides for soya can be used on edamame but no insecticides or fungicides are currently approved.

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