As featured in Arable Farming Magazine
Growing for gold with new spring bean
by Arable Farming Magazine October 2022 issue
Spring bean Yukon may not seem an obvious choice for growers at first glance of the Descriptive List, but there is more to the variety than its yield.
With a yield rating of 91, Yukon trails its stable mate variety Lynx by some margin.
But keep reading to the right across the PGRO Descriptive List columns and some interesting figures emerge.
First off, Yukon is the earliest maturing variety on the spring bean list and the only variety with an 8 rating for earliness, making it a contender for growers in the north of England and Scotland in particular.
Indeed, the early maturity may explain its yield ranking in trials as, unlike in most farm situations, all varieties in trials – whether early or late maturing – have to be combined together.
It also has the highest downy mildew rating (8) among the pale hilum varieties on the list, a clear plus for all growers, whether in the north or south of the country.
To add to those benefits, Yukon has a very high thousand seed weight (TSW) at 632, giving it a very marketable sample for buyers in Egypt who form the main export market for UK-grown beans.
However, Yukon is not just a variety for the North.
According to Michael Shuldham, pulses product manager for the variety’s breeder, LS Plant Breeding, its early maturity with the added benefits of the highest downy mildew resistance rating and a high TSW means it has a place in the rotation with southern spring bean growers as well as with those in the north of England and Scotland.
He says: “Equally important is its marketability, where its high TSW gives a good sample for Egyptian buyers who form the main human consumption export market for UK-grown beans.
It is also a plus for the equally important UK aquaculture market for dehulled beans.
“We believe Yukon will find a firm place with UK spring bean growers where its benefits will put it alongside its sister variety, the market leader Lynx.”
Seed growers have been gaining experience with Yukon over the last three years as the variety is multiplied up ready for its full launch for spring 2023 drilling.
McGregor Farms grew a seed crop of Yukon last year.
Arable manager David Fuller says while the variety was later at every growth stage during the growing season, its maturity accelerated and it was harvested on September 17, which was the same day as the farm’s other spring bean crop, and it provided a comparable yield and moisture content.
He says: “We do find in our part of the world that harvest date is dictated more heavily by drilling date and weather patterns than bean maturity.
“Having said that, the earlier the crop matures the more available suitable harvest days there will be.
Downy mildew was less problematic in the Yukon.
“We grew Yukon again this year and harvested them on August 27, with a yield of just over six tonnes per hectare.
“There are still spring beans in the Borders that haven’t, as yet [September 10], been harvested.”
Bold samples help marketability
Andy Bury, pulse manager for Frontier Agriculture, highlights several marketing pluses offered by Yukon.
He says: “The key benefit for us is Yukon’s high thousand seed weight [TSW].
That means a nice, plump sample for our customers in Egypt who form the main human consumption export market for UK-grown beans.
“Buyers in Egypt like larger beans as they are ideal for splitting (or dehulling, as it is called in this market).
That helps us compete against the larger sized Australian beans that are our key competition.
Indeed, once Aussie beans hit the market in mid-November, that usually closes off the Egyptian market for us.”
Mr Bury adds that the variety’s TSW is also of value in the equally important UK aquaculture market for dehulled beans.
“In summary, Yukon has good visual appeal – its large size and brighter, less-stained sample is something that is ideal for our markets,” he says.