Soon it will be time to plan the plantings for harvest 2017, yet many growers have a problem with breaking the cycle of monoculture, tight rotations, blackgrass, pests and diseases The three cropping rule and EFA and falling commodity prices have also added to the quandary.
“It is time to return to the traditional rotational practices that have been proven over centuries,” believes Peter Busfield of Lincs-based merchant Dunns (pictured, right).
“Take a step back in time to the UK farming picture in the mid 1970s. Peas were widely grown and pulses accounted for approaching a million acres. Then came the march of oilseed rape. This gained a big following - mainly at the expense of peas.
“As we all know, oilseed rape has been a very good crop for the UK farmer for over 35 years - but is now under pressure with reduced margins and problems resulting from too tight rotations.
“So it is surely time to take another look at peas. In the past, many arable farmers dismissed peas as a crop that could be problematical and not profitable, with low yield, poor prices and – in particular- lodging issues.
“But, the latest pea varieties on the PGRO Recommended List bring consistent yield, have good colour retention - which is where the added value is - and have made massive leaps forward on earliness and standing ability. For example, Campus from LS Plant Breeders Ltd (LSPB) has a top-of-list ‘8’ for standing ability at harvest.
“Other benefits also come into play: as a spring crop peas have a long drilling window from March through to the end of May, land can be purged of blackgrass with glyphosate over a longer period combating the delayed dormancy that frustrates other control methods, and peas bring the added feature of compliance with the EFA rules.
“All the above benefits - and the shortest cash flow of any combinable crop. That cannot be bad,” adds Mr Busfield.