While an earlier than usual pulse harvest will follow cereals to the combine, crop yields and quality remain uncertain at this stage of the season.

2016 is the International Year of Pulses

Markets are little changed over the last two to three months. Prices have drifted lower as new crop approaches, reports Roger Vickers, chief executive of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation, but there is little end user interest without a clear picture of the volumes and quality on offer.

On world markets, Egypt has imposed an export ban on its domestic beans – about 100,000 tonnes were harvested in April. But the Covid-19 pandemic has reduced consumption there and imported bean stocks are currently plentiful at between 150,000-200,000 tonnes. There continues to be little interest in the Egyptian market at present.

Australia is forecasting a 402,000-tonne new crop, which is supporting old crop bean values. Canada’s pea production could rise to 4.25 million tonnes, with good demand keeping prices stable. But US pea production is forecast to fall by 25% to 800,000 tonnes.

In Europe, the French pea harvest is complete, with a lowish yield range of 2-7t/ha after drought and persistent aphid attack. The bean harvest is just starting – 28% of the French bean crop is organic. Lithuania’s bean area is down 9% to 50,000ha, but Germany’s is 15% higher at 56,500ha.

“With the continuing disenchantment with oilseed rape, growers are looking ahead to crop 2021 with merchants receiving considerable interest in pulses,” concludes Mr Vickers. “Buy-back contracts are now being offered for both peas and beans.”

Lewis Cottey, president of Pulses UK, advises that UK new crop feed beans are trading at around £195-£200/tonne ex-farm. Values have been stable for quite some time. With the last of the pea imports for feed arriving, feed extruders may return to using beans from August at the lower price level.

He adds that 2021 buy back contracts for beans are available, with options working on fixed prices relative to wheat futures showing premiums of around £30/tonne or via produce area marketing pools. Some traders are offering specific premiums for LVC variety types and higher quality traits such as protein levels.

Mr Cottey reports optimism that the UK combining pea crop may be better than originally expected – feed peas are trading at around £190/tonne ex-farm. What marrowfat peas are available could be worth up to £300/tonne ex-farm, with new crop contracts around £10/tonne more depending on quality.

Blue and Green pea samples are fetching £240-£260/tonne ex-farm, again dependent on quality, with 2021 crop contracts are in the £225-£275/tonne range. Yellow/ White peas are worth some £235/tonne with 2021 contracts ranging between £200-250/tonne ex-farm. Current maple pea values are around £310/tonne ex-farm, although few free market options exist in the niche market that is largely covered by contract.