UK pulse crop market values have firmed and remain strong, reports the Processors and Growers Research Organisation (PGRO). Despite a bigger 2019 harvest, prices haven’t fallen as far as expected from the previous year’s very high levels and appear to have stabilised at much higher levels than seen two or three years ago.

The area of winter sown beans is down in line with winter cereals after the very wet autumn. This raises the prospect of higher spring pulse sowings, says PGRO chief executive Roger Vickers, and there is seed available to support a significant uplift in the spring pulse area. One knock-on effect is that growers are holding onto pulse crops as a possible farm saved seed option.

Internationally, Mr Vickers reports that the Baltic bean crop was short on volume, although quality was good, and much seems to have been sold already. The Australian crop volume was below expectation at around 300,000 tonnes, with growers reluctant to sell below 2019 values. However, some export shipments are now being made, which is likely to limit the upside for domestic UK price levels.

Egyptian buyers are now turning to UK-sourced beans, with normal feed grade beans accepted for human consumption contracts and the Bruchid threshold raised to 20%. With the article 50 Brexit withdrawal achieved, exports to the EU can continue within the transition period for the rest of 2020, although the uncertainty returns after that. Mr Vickers notes that the WTO tariff for peas is 0% and just 3.2% on beans.

Pulses UK president Lewis Cottey reports that UK feed bean values have firmed about £16/tonne since Christmas to some £200/tonne ex-farm, supported by growers holding onto their stocks and Egyptian demand. This is too high for most domestic feed material buyers as soya and rapemeals are more competitive.

Mr Cottey advises that top quality human consumption samples can fetch up to £255/tonne ex-farm, price levels that make it viable to improve the quality of batches using needle and colour sorters. He adds that the outlook is for prices remain stable, with an early Ramadan likely to drive demand and world availability limited.

Turning to combining peas, Mr Cottey says the market is largely being driven by micronizers, who have been buying more heavily recently. As with beans, grower reluctance to sell is limiting availability, although traders believe the official national pea crop estimates may have been too high.

Free market marrowfat peas are fetching between £270 to £315/tonne ex-farm, depending on sample quality, while contracted old crop is worth up to £380/tonne. New crop 2020 contracts are on offer for £300-320/tonne ex-farm.

Blue peas are being supported by rising Canadian values, with quality UK samples ranging from £225 – £290/tonne ex-farm. 2020 contracts are in the £225 – £275/tonne range ex-farm. Yellow Peas are fetching £205 – £210/tonne ex-farm, where demand exists, with a £200-250/tonne range for 2020 contracts. Maple peas could be worth £320/tonne ex-farm, although the favourite variety Rose appears to have sold out.