Farmers intent on planting spring beans in 2022 have just over two weeks to gets crops into the ground, so the clock is ticking.

This is the very clear advice issued by Seedtech technical director, Tim O’Donovan.

He told Agriland: “Beans have a five to six-month growing cycle, so the cut-off planting date kicks-in around the beginning of April.

“Beans can follow any form of cereal crop within a tillage rotation. But beans following rape is not ideal but can be done.”

Nutrient requirements for spring beans

O’Donovan confirmed that beans do not require any form of bagged nitrogen (N). And slurry can provide all the phosphate and potash that crops will require, but a soil test is recommended as with all crops.

“A combination of the zero reliance on bagged nitrogen and the fact that crops are eligible for the Protein Aid Scheme will be key factors in persuading farmers to grow beans this year,” he explained.

“In financial terms, that means that beans deliver a €300/ac advantage to the farmer from the get-go, relative to a spring cereal.

“The big advantage with beans is less spend from a grower’s perspective, from having to apply no nitrogen on beans, and there is another €50/ac saving in next year’s cereal crop as the beans leave 40-50kg/ha residual nitrogen,” he added.

Spring beans in new tillage intervention measure

O’Donovan has welcomed the recent announcement by agriculture minister, Charlie McConalogue, to include spring beans within the new tillage intervention measure.

“Any measure that acts to reduce Ireland’s dependence on imported grains has to be welcomed,” O’Donovan said.

“We currently import some four million tonnes of cereals, proteins and oilseeds on an annual basis. But the one downside to the new scheme is that the crop attracting the subsidy must be grown after grass.

“The new measure does little or nothing for bespoke tillage farmers, who have little or no grass available to them that is suitable for converting over to tillage crops,” he added.

“Also, we must remember that there is no chemical control for leather jackets or wireworm which may be issues sowing row crops like maize or beet after grass.”

According to the Seedtech representative, beans can be grown very successfully after grass.

“One very attractive option for livestock farmers is to grow a mix of wheat and beans with the aim of producing a very high quality crop silage,” he continued.

“Despite the different seed sizes, both crop types can be mixed in the drill and sown-out together.”

Sales of seed

O’Donovan also confirmed that sales of bean seeds up to this point are on a par with those recorded in 2021.

“The current high prices for barley are a big attraction at the present time. I am also aware of the fact that bean yields have been quite variable in the past. This was particularly so in 2018,” he said.

“But who knows what state world grain markets will be in, come this year’s harvest?”

O’Donovan said that from an agronomy perspective, beans are the perfect crop option on heavier land as the end of March beckons.

“Recent years have seen many breakthroughs made in terms of the bean varieties brought to market. Improved crop management techniques have also been developed in equal measure,” he stated.

“Seedtech is actively involved in research to develop faba beans for human consumption and animal feed.

“There is a lot happening within this space. But I keep coming back to the fundamental point, where the growing of beans is concerned. And this is the guaranteed economic advantage that growers can avail of from the instant they commit to the crop, relative to a spring cereal.”