Gregor and Fury scoop major BEPA awards

LSPB varieties have scooped two major awards in the 2013 British Edible Pulses Association competition, which aims to find the nation's best dried pulses.

Winner of Class 3, beans suitable for human consumption, was a sample of Fury grown by T Brown and Son, Bottom Farm, Covington near Huntingdon. The sample, one of 35 in the class, was put forward by Ebbage Seeds.

Gregor peas were judged the best of 17 samples entered in Class 4, any other pea (not marrowfat or large blue). The winning peas were grown by Fort Farming, Ellis Farm, Burton, Lincolnshire and also entered by Ebbage Seeds.

In addition, Vertigo, the highest yielding spring bean on the Recommended List, which will have its C1 launch this spring, was runner up in Class 3 and further samples of Gregor took second and third spot in Class 4.

"The results reflect the depth of our dedicated UK breeding programme which began in 2006,' says LSPB managing director Theo Labuda. "The programme is producing the highest yielding varieties and delivering the quality that growers and markets require.

"Fury is now being followed by Fanfare, which will be launched commercially this spring and was a BEPA winner last year, and Vertigo in 2015. Gregor has now firmly established itself as the number one white pea.'

Michael Brown grew 36ha of Fury for seed in 2013. The crop was drilled on 22 Feb into lightly cultivated overwintered ploughing at 45-50 seedsa/m2. "I like to drill as soon as soil conditions allow, though the beans took a long time to emerge in the cold weather.'

Nirvana herbicide sprayed three weeks after drilling struggled in the conditions but two follow-up two passes with a comb rake and an application of Troy plus oil cleared out surviving weeds. May-applied Alto Elite + sulphur and Amistar in July kept the crop clean of disease.

"We harvested the crop at the beginning of September. It yielded 3.75t/ha and produced a really nice sample,' says Michael. "Keeping bruchid beetles out was key as was combining in good conditions, taking care not to crack any beans. That said, we were surprised and really pleased to learn we had won the competition.'

Mark Fort has been growing peas since 1986, and Gregor for seed for the past two years. The crop was sown into freshly ploughed and cultivated over-wintered stubble in early April, a month later than planned. Waiting for the right conditions paid off – the crop emerged well and grew away strongly. Pre-emergence Skirmish controlled weeds well, a single application of SAN 703 fungicide and Hallmark controlled disease and aphids. Manganese is also crucial on Mark's high PH soils to control marsh spot.

"Keeping the crop standing, desiccating at the right time and harvesting as soon it is fit ensures a bright, bold sample that will suit human consumption markets if the crop doesn't go for seed,' says Mark.

It's a policy that works, producing the best sample in the BEPA competition. Being a typically modest farmer, Mark says: "The secret to success was the weather. It really helped us grow and combine a sample to be proud of. We'll certainly be growing Gregor again.'

Tom Nickerson of Ebbage Seeds said he was delighted with the result. "The two winning growers have shown how peas and bean can perform in the right hands. For a sample of Fury to top such a big class reflects the quality of the variety and the way it was farmed, while Gregor taking the top three places in Class 4 shows this variety has quality through and through.'

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