The demand for UK pulses looks set to increase further with significant domestic interest in the 2021 crop. More immediately, the 2020 harvest appears to be a stop-start affair and much of the UK pulse crop is yet to be combined. A decent fine spell is now required to bring it home.

While a massive yield range has been experienced, the UK pea crop appears to have performed better than expected and it is likely that yields will be just short of average. Dry conditions during the growing season means grain size appears to be smaller than normal and this will account for some of the yield loss as well as increasing screening losses. Quality of the few early samples seen is reported to be of good colour but with disappointing levels of pea moth damage.

Southern winter bean crops have not promised much all year and in that respect have not disappointed. Winter bean quality is disappointingly poor and looks set for the feed market. Only around 50% of the intended crop was eventually drilled and after sowing, winter beans almost universally sat cold sodden soils before being baked dry in the spring. With most harvested in July it is hardly surprising that yields and quality have fallen short of growers’ initial hopes.

The main part of the spring bean crop looks significantly better and some promising yields look likely, particularly from the Midlands northwards. Early spring bean reports suggest southern crops have yielded much better than winter crops but have significant bruchid issues, many with insects not yet emerged.

The markets remain flat. Buyers are sitting on the fence with little pressure to buy, the effects of the pandemic quelling demand, leaving old crop stocks untroubled. Sellers are without the usual barn fill pressures of a more normal year and are therefore also able to sit back, at least for a while. Fluctuations in the currency market and a strengthened Sterling, especially against the US dollar has had a negative impact on export potential adding to the cost for buyers.

Pulse Prices

Feed Beans…
Small volumes that are trading might be expected to fetch £195-£200/tonne ex-farm in November, with lower values for immediate movement.
Prices have continued to face some downward pressure as the new crop arrived but have held up remarkably well. Short position sellers are currently holding up the feed bean market and at the current levels the domestic feed demand is limited. At these levels soya is considered to represent better protein value.

There are, however, feed export commitments with consignments destined for Italy, Spain, Denmark and France over the coming months.

Despite the lack of dynamism in the market the trade is confident that the available crop will be easily absorbed.

Human Consumption beans…
With little demand and with the prospects of a large, good quality Australian crop available from November or December, the prospective window of opportunity for northern European beans of lower quality looks small. Feed bean prices are supporting a high base price and discounted Australian offers are pulling down a low ceiling. This makes finding much of a premium for good quality UK production hard. Current premiums over feed are notionally offered at as much as £5-£10/t.

Combining peas…
The pea crop is generally better than was expected in the late weeks of spring/early summer. However mixed maturity from uneven emergence is resulting in many samples with a wide grain size range and is likely to be the main reason for yield reduction. Peas that do not make the grade and are destined for the feed trade at a discount to beans should currently expect no more than £185-190/t ex-farm. In reality, merchants first interest post-harvest will be with their contracted producers, meaning that until the quality, production volumes and final prices for their existing obligations have been agreed there is likely to be minimal interest in open market productions.

Marrowfat peas
Off contract demand is currently low but good quality samples might receive offers in the range of £265-£285/t ex-farm

2021 crop contracts are available with some merchants while others are waiting until the size and quality of the 2020 crop is better known. Contracts available have a value range, with either deductions or bonus quality clauses. Rough values are based around £310/t ex-farm depending upon quality.

Blue / Green peas
An indicative value for a bleached (>10%) lot off contract might be £215/t ex-farm stretching up to £250/t for the best good quality colour and soaking samples.
2021 crop contracts are typically available within a range £225-£275 for crop 2021.

Yellow / White peas
Current values are in the region of £205/t. Some really impressive large bold grain samples have been seen.

2021 contracts are available in the range £200-250/t ex-farm, with clauses for waste and stain. There are no colour clauses for yellow peas, but the values tend to be lower due to potential competition from imports and large volumes of international trade. A small domestic market exists that puts a premium on UK provenance.

Maple peas
Current values are around £295/t ex-farm. Samples seen so far have been excellent with good yields.

Maple peas have a small niche market and tend to be quickly covered by committed growers. If interested ask your trader if contracts are available.