Hopefully 2018 was an exception for beans…otherwise the stats are good

Don’t let last season dictate your decision on whether or not to plant beans in 2019. That was the advice from Ciaran Collins – Teagasc tillage specialist – at the Dairygold tillage conference this week (Monday, January 28).

“We’ve seen a linear yield increase in beans from 2005 to 2017,” Ciaran stated.

“2018 changed that picture – 2.5t/ha or 1t/ac was the most a lot of crops did this year.

We often react to what happened in the previous season.

“It is important to put in perspective what has happened in the years previous to see where we could possibly end up in 2019,” Ciaran added.

Data source: Teagasc

2018 yield drop

The yield of spring beans took a dramatic fall in 2018, as can be seen in the graph below. However, Ciaran calculated the five-year average yield from 2013 to 2017; it came to 6t/ha.

Data source: Teagasc

Outperforming spring barley

Spring beans are working out as a profitable crop according to the Teagasc e-profit monitor. In 2016 and 2017 the protein crop outperformed spring barley on net margin.

The net margin of spring beans was €110/ha above spring barley in 2016. In 2017, spring beans were €46/ha ahead of spring barley, as can be seen in the graph below.

Data source: Teagasc

Ciaran also noted that spring beans can bring a yield advantage to other crops in the rotation.

Protein payment

The protein payment played a large part in the higher net margin over spring barley and indeed the popularity of spring beans in recent years.

2,800ha of spring beans were planted in this country in 2014. In the year following this, the protein payment was introduced and that area jumped rapidly to 9,341ha. In this year, the protein payment was €280/ha.

As area increased the payment decreased and in 2017 that payment was at €215/ha, over a total of 11,444ha of spring beans.

Poor weather in the spring of 2018 resulted in a reduction in planting and in turn an increase in the protein payment – which worked out at approximately €350/ha over 6,967ha of spring beans.

It should be noted that smaller areas of other protein crop – peas and lupins – also count towards the eligible area of protein crops under the scheme.

Data source: Teagasc

Small amount of seed available

It was also mentioned at the conference that spring bean seed is not in plentiful supply this season – due to the reduced area and low yields last season. As a result the protein payment may hit the highs of 2018 again this year as the area planted may remain relatively stable.

Dairygold also announced a contract price of €210/t – at a moisture content of 20% – for 2019 beans. For further information growers are advised to contact their local Dairygold agri-sales manager.

Last season, Dairygold announced a contract price of €170/t, but actually increased this price at harvest to €230/t.