The area of beans planted in this country is relatively small. In 2020, almost 13,000ha of beans were planted – the majority of which were planted in the spring time.

In order to address challenges faced by growers Teagasc is currently undertaking a survey of field bean growers which is hoped will help to steer the direction of research into the crop.

While the Protein Payment has no doubt increased the area planted to protein crops, growers are still hesitant when it comes to planting these crops.

Speaking on this topic, Dr. Ewen Mullins, who it the head of the Teagasc Crop Science Department at Oak Park stated: “The on-going perceived variability in yield, inadequate varietal development, late harvest and limited agronomic information, including disease control, in the Irish context are some of the suspected reasons associated with the current low area.

Based on preliminary data collated by Teagasc, high variability in field beans performance was noted across the country in 2020.

In 2020, Teagasc noted that growers experienced drought in the midlands, excellent growing conditions in the south, higher than normal disease in many parts, storm damage in exposed areas and a delayed harvest in some areas.

Approximate area of beans in planted in Ireland:
  • 2020 – 12,950ha;
  • 2019 – 7,400ha;
  • 2018 – 8,500ha;
  • 2017 – 13,700ha;
  • 2016 – 12,500ha;
  • 2015 – 10,700ha (Protein Payment was introduced);
  • 2014 – 3,500ha.

Teagasc is encouraging growers to complete a short online survey in order to capture growers experiences and actions which may have had an effect on crop growth and development.

On the positives of Irish protein Ewen noted: “The primary market advantage for Irish grown beans is as an indigenous traceable source of protein in animal feed rations that can displace imported proteins and ensure the traceability credentials of Irish food exports.

Indeed, nutritionally beans compete favourably with import sources, with the protein and energy characteristics of field beans comparable to maize distillers meal, and at an appropriate price differential competing favourably with soya.

Adding beans as a break crop in a rotation will help with nitrogen fixation, yields and soil health; all of which will be important as the Farm to Fork strategy is implemented.

It is hoped that the survey will deliver an increased understanding of factors influencing returned yields and support on-going research at Teagasc Oak Park. This will allow improved management regimes to be created for field beans in Ireland in order to support the growth of the domestic market for beans.

If you would like to complete the survey you can do so by clicking here

If you require further information on Teagasc’s on-going field bean research the researcher to contact is Sheila Alves.