Breakthrough spring bean varieties set to change the market

Fanfare and Vertigo spring beans have cemented their reputation as breakthrough varieties after taking the top two places on the PGRO Recommended List for the second year running.

These two varieties, both from breeder LSPB, have also received the green light from exporters meaning growers will not only secure top yields but the best prices.

Both varieties have been promoted to category P2, the second year of provisional recommendation, on the recently released 2014 list. Vertigo tops the list with a score of 109 while Fanfare achieved 105, based on a five-year mean. Fuego, which has corned the market for the past seven seasons, scored 98.

Fanfare is being commercially launched this spring, and LSPB managing director Theo Labuda expects strong demand. "Fanfare is likely to prove popular with growers, given its excellent yield score, good standing ability and earliness,' he says.

"It also provides access to valuable export markets – we've heard very favourable reports from Egypt, the key market for UK beans, and the variety scooped the British Edible Pulses Association award in 2012 for the best human consumption bean. We've plenty of C2 seed available to meet expected demand.'

Paul Nickerson of seed wholesaler Ebbage Seeds predicts a big shift in bean sales, starting this spring. "The market is changing. Fuego's dominant position is now over and Fanfare is very much part of managing that change. We believe this LSPB programme will take a minimum of 50% market share by 2015.'

Like Fuego before them, both varieties are set to make a big impact on the premium-earning human consumption export market. Although Fanfare's thousand seed weight of 511 is slightly lower than Fuego's 537 it has impressed overseas buyers.

"We had the Fanfare blind tested against Fuego in Egypt and it came through with flying colours,' says Dave Harrison, of Maidstone, Kent-based exporter Maviga.

Growers are also impressed. Mark Richardson of Warter Priory Farms, North Yorkshire, says Fanfare delivered unexpectedly good results this harvest. "I drilled the Fanfare early into a thin, wold field, so I wasn't expecting too much at harvest. However, Fanfare came out with exceptional yields. It was a very straightforward variety to grow and I was very impressed with how high up the stem the pods were.'

Commercial seed multiplication of Vertigo begins in spring 2014 and C2 supplies will be widely available in 2015, says Mr Labuda. "Judging by its current performance this is a variety that growers will be ordering early.'

Vertigo is also assured a good future on the export markets. Its TSW of 545 is the highest of all the coloured flowered spring beans on the RL.

Frontier's Andy Bury says his customers in Egypt were very pleased with the variety. "In their view Vertigo beans look to be an excellent replacement for Fuego,' he adds.

One of the few growers who has seen Vertigo is Robert Nickols of D E Nickols & Son, near Sleaford, who says the crop rooted and yielded very well. "I found the disease resistance to be good,' he adds. "Also the crop matured evenly and podded high up the stalk, which helps when combining. Overall I'm very pleased with the variety and will definitely grow it again.'

* Campus, LSPB's large blue pea has been promoted to P1 on the 2014 RL of combining peas. This tall but very stiff variety scores a table-topping yield of 103, maintaining a similar dominance over two years of National Lists trials.

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