The value of pulse crops in the rotation are well-recognised, and new varieties add to this value for growers by bringing increased yields and improved field characters such as disease resistance. The other challenge for breeders is to introduce varieties that also extend the end user markets for pulse crops. One such success is happening for beans with the varieties included in the LVC (low vicine/convicine) category of the PGRO spring bean Recommended List (RL).
The two LVC varieties currently on the RL, Victus and Tiffany, have a high protein and low vicine and convicine content, attributes that will help to further develop the UK pulse market with end users.
When beans are used for processing and food ingredients, a different set of characters apply instead of the recognised human consumption requirements for the export market.
In essence, vicine and convicine are anti-nutritional compounds that have a negative effect when fed at high levels to animals. Hence, low vicine and convicine varieties allow the food industry to incorporate beans at a higher level in feed rations for meat and egg production, thereby replacing imported soya with UK-grown protein.
“This is good for UK growers - and also good for the environment by reducing carbon footprints,” notes Theo Labuda, Managing Director of LS Plant Breeders Ltd (LSPB), the breeders of Victus and Tiffany.
“The LVC market has an extra benefit for growers who have issues with bruchid levels, as it does not have the bruchid limits needed for the human consumption market, hence opening an alternative premium market to feed outlets.
“There is an interesting parallel with the introduction of ‘double low’ (low erucic acid plus low glucosinolate) oilseed rape varieties which helped pave the way to increased incorporation level of rape meal in non-ruminant rations in the mid-1970s.
“Indeed, LSPB varieties were at the forefront of this development, and we hope that LVC bean varieties will help develop markets for the bean crop in an analogous way,” he adds.