Farmers thinking of planting beans this spring should take ground conditions into consideration before planting. At this year’s Teagasc National Tillage Conference, Teagasc’s Ciarán Collins and Sheila Alves had advice for growers.

The first thing to note is bean crops should only be planted every five or six years in a field and farmers should be targeting 25-30 plants/m2. If farmers sow later in the season after the middle of March, then they should increase the target plant count to 40 plants/m2. This will affect seeding rate.

Growers should talk to their advisers on seeding rates as thousand grain weights of seed will impact on this as well.

Establishment methods

Ciarán and Sheila commented that while there is very little difference between establishment methods, some methods were favoured at different times of the year. Strip-till establishment is suited to early sowing in February and early March. This allows seed to be planted at 4” or more and will keep seed safe from crows.

So as weather improves, wait for good conditions before planting bean crops this season to give the crop the best start.

Those planting crops later might be better opting for plough and one-pass establishment to get crops off to a quick start. However, if ground conditions are not suited to planting then the establishment system will make little difference and growers should hold off on planting.

Advice was also to try and plant earlier on lighter soils in order to avoid the plant flowering during a drier spell in the summer. Getting the crop established with a good root system will help to make the plant more resilient to drought. Later sowing runs the risk of flowering being hit by drought and an increase in pod loss.

Peas are more drought-tolerant Donal Fitzgerald of Goldcrop noted, while adding that genetic improvements are needed to keep pea crops standing and make them an attractive option for farmers.