Tundra Winter Bean Husbandry Guide

Tundra Winter Bean Husbandry Guide

Winter beans are closely related to spring beans but are more tolerant of winter weather and are slower developing. Winter beans do not have a vernalisation requirement and their seed size is usually larger.

Winter beans can be expected to ripen 7-10 days earlier than a spring bean crop sown in March.

The area sown to winter beans has remained limited in Ireland in recent years as growers have chosen to grow spring beans instead. However, spring beans have demonstrated a relatively unreliable performance. This unreliability is often caused by late sowing in the spring and consequent flower abortion in the crop when it encounters even a short lived drought.

Winter beans are not without their challenges either. In the past, two main challenges occurred when winter beans were grown

  1. Crows causing seed and seedling loss,

  2. High disease pressure from Chocolate Spot and consequently high fungicide costs

The guidelines presented here are partly based on trial work conducted by Goldcrop to negate the above two challenges when growing winter beans in Ireland.

See the Progression of Tundra Form Plant to Harvest

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27th May

16th Sept

Site Selection & Sowing

Beans in general prefer heavier soils which are less drought susceptible. However, beans do not like compaction or overly fine seedbeds. Beans are well able to tolerate relatively cloddy seed beds but too rough a seed bed can result in a reduced effectiveness of residual herbicides and encourage slugs.

Beans (or peas) should not be planted more frequently than 1 year in 5 in a rotation.

Ensure that there are no bean volunteers in close proximity to a new winter bean crop; such volunteers can infect the winter bean crop with Ascochyta, a disease for which there is no effective control.

Winter beans should be sown to a consistent depth of 3-4 inches; this puts the seed too deep for crows. Consistent seed depth is very important as it results in uniform establishment and less chance of crows being attracted to shallow seeds.

Only certain seed drills can place seed to this depth. Strip till drills such as SUMO DTS, Claydon etc are ideal. Conventional cereal drills will struggle to achieve depth. Shallowing ploughing down of the seed is an alternative; however, this can result in uneven seed depth and emergence.

Uniform emergence of the crop will make herbicide timing easier and shorten the time in which crows can attack.

Seed rate must be calculated based on the seed size (TGW), germination rate of the seed and expected field losses. Field losses in the absence of crow damage can be expected to be approx 10-15%.

Target plant population for Tundra beans is 24-28 plants/m2. This is lower than spring beans but winter beans will branch and tiller where space is available.

The target sowing date for Winter beans is from mid-November to early December, dependant on region with the earlier sowing date preferable in more northerly latitudes. Sowing too early will result in higher foliar disease pressure and control costs.


Fertiliser & Nutrition

Beans do not have a Nitrogen requirement as they fix Nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Any P required should be placed in the seedbed at sowing time. K can be also be placed or broadcast on afterwards.

Beans respond to Trace elements where they are required. Requirements should be based on soil tests and Leaf tissue analysis.

Beans do not like acidic soil conditions; optimum pH is 6.5 – 7.

Weed Control

Weed control in winter beans must be applied prior to crop emergence. Emergence from a sowing depth of 3-4” can be expected to take 3-4 weeks.

Goldcrop have had excellent results from applying a mix of Glyphosate (3L/Ha) and Nirvana (4L/Ha) just before crop emergence. The Glyphosate kills any existing weeds and the Nirvana prevents any further weed development.

By delaying herbicide application till just before crop emergence, the residual component of the herbicide is less exposed to leaching from winter rains. The herbicide will also be applied onto a surface which has been sealed in the time interval since sowing.

Planting using strip till as opposed to ploughing should also result in a seedbed which is better able to carry the weight of a sprayer.

Disease Control

The two main diseases encountered in winter beans are Chocolate Spot & Downy Mildew. Both are best controlled with preventative action. By avoiding sowing winter beans too early, the onset of disease pressure in the spring is delayed.

Goldcrop have found that a 3 spray program based on Signum for Chocolate Spot & Bean Rust control to be very reliable. The first application (0.75kg/Ha) is applied at the beginning of flowering. Two further applications (0.75kg followed by 0.5kg) are applied at 3 week intervals.

Downy Mildew can be well controlled by applying Basfoliar Activ before symptoms arise or just at the very early onset of symptoms.

5 tips for successful establishment

1. Site selection is important

  • heavier soils best, soil pH must be >6.5
  • no beans in rotation for previous 5 years
  • don’t sow near a crop of volunteer beans / near cover crops containing beans (risk of Ascochyta infection)

2. Don’t sow too early

– after mid-November to mid-December is best

3. Sow TUNDRA at 8-10cm / 3-4 inches depth to avoid crow damage.

Direct drill methods work well, especially into stubble ground / standing
cover crops which can increase surface soil tilth.

4. Sowing rate should be 30 – 35 seeds per sq metre

– check TGW & Germination % of seed being drilled

5. All herbicides should be applied before crop emergence

For more information on growing a successful crop of winter beans, please contact John Dunne

Field Beans - Crop Development, Agronomy Pointers

An excellent break crop with good margin potential

  • Winter or Spring sown Field Beans (Vicia faba) are an excellent low cost leguminous break-crop option for Irish tillage farms that can leave a gross margin comparable to a high yielding cereal crop.
  • Beans are a low-cost crop to grow with zero Nitrogen fertiliser requirements – they can typically fix 40 kg N per hectare N which is available for the next crop and so offer a good entry to first cereals.
  • Beans are ideally suited to meeting the requirements of the new 2-crop or 3-crop rule under the CAP 2015 reforms. They also now qualify for the new protein-crop aid payment of up to €250/ha.
  • Beans produce a high protein, high energy and GM-free feed which can be included in compound feeds for both ruminant and monogastric animals, offering users a great alternative to imported feeds such as Soya / distillers. The nutritional value of beans is 26-28% crude protein and a UFL of 1.01.

Yield Potential:

Crop yields can vary hugely between crop years which have been one of the major negative points raised by growers when referring to the bean crop. The
national average yield of beans is approx. 5.5 tonnes per hectare / 2.2 tonnes per acre, but we know from trials that there is potential to grow up to 8.0 tonnes
per hectare in Ireland. Goldcrop would be encouraging growers to target a minimum yield of 6.25 tonnes per hectare / 2.5 tonnes per acre on a consistent
basis, and hopefully, with improvement in agronomy and variety development, we can raise the national average significantly in coming years.

Soil type / Crop Rotation:

Beans are deep rooting plants that do best on medium to heavy soils that don’t suffer from summer drought. Beans can be sown in conjunction with OSR or
beet in a crop rotation along with cereals, albeit the risk of disease infection will increase with a higher level of cruciferous crops in the mix.
Goldcrop recommend to grow beans in rotation no less than 1 year in 5 to avoid issues with diseases such as Sclerotinia and Ascochyta.

Soil Fertility:

Lime Status: Beans like high pH (6.5 – 7.0), best to soil test prior to sowing and apply lime if necessary.
Macro Nutrient Requirements (kg/ha):
Nitrogen Phosphorus Potash Magnesium
Soil Index 1 0 50 100 40
Soil Index 2 0 40 60 20
Soil Index 3 0 20 40 0

Micro Nutrients:

These are essential in beans. Routine and multiple applications of Manganese, Magnesium and Zinc should be applied during the stem extension and
flowering phases of plant growth.

Sowing Date:

Winter Beans are normally sown from mid-October onwards, with a latest safe sowing date similar to winter wheat - i.e. 1st week Feb down south, and a week
later in the North East. Winter Beans tend to tiller more than spring beans, especially if sown early, and this tends to produce a large canopy of foliage which
can lead to lodging pressure. Later sowing is preferred, but problems with establishment and crow damage must also be considered.
Spring beans can be sown ideally from early February onwards and no later than early April, otherwise harvest will run late and yields could fall back below 1.5
tonnes per acre. Seed rate is important, and always check the TSW of your seed lot before sowing to avoid wasting seed and running into potential problems
with lodging / chocolate spot pressure from overly thick crops.

Seed Rate:

Winter Beans - Target plant stand is 22-25 plants/m² which is lower than spring beans due to the higher tillering capacity of winter types. Seeding rate
depends on TSW and allowance for establishment losses. Typically, sowing 25-30 seeds per sq metre of TUNDRA or WIZARD.
Spring Beans – Target plant stand depends on sowing date – earlier sown crops will tiller more and grow taller, whereas later sown crops will need greater plant numbers to compensate to get pod numbers per sq metre to the optimum level. Typically (for all varieties), sowing 30 – 40 seeds per sq metre for early drilled crops, and 35 – 45 seeds per sq metre when drilling in late March / April.

It is important to sow beans deep (10cm +) to prevent crow damage, especially if planting in the months November – early March. Beans can also be direct drilled into stubble to greater depths using drilling machines such as the Claydon, Mizuri or Sumo.

Variety Choice:

See https://goldcrop.ie/agriculture/recommended-lists for full information on all commercial varieties available in Ireland and the UK. The principle
varieties currently grown are;
Winter Beans – TUNDRA, WIZARD

Crop Protection

Weed Control

Beans are a very uncompetitive crop so it is essential to get the weed
control correct.
1. Broadleaved Weeds
– For Pre-emergence application: Nirvana 4.5 l/ha or Stallion 3.0 l/ha There is also an off-label approval for Stomp Aqua which can be used up to 2.2 l/ha.
2. Broadleaved Weeds
– For Post-emergence application: Basagran SG is the only product for post-emergence BLW control in beans. Results from such treatments can be variable / unreliable so it’s best to prioritise preemergence control options. If applying, make sure to add oil / adjuvant to the mix (e.g. Squadron, Fortune, Toil etc).
3. Grass Weeds – Apply early Post-Emergence Consider graminicide options such as Falcon, Fusilade Max or Stratos Ultra

Disease Control

Disease control options are limited and focus on prevention rather than cure. Advice is to start the programmes before disease gets established i.e. before first bud. The main diseases of beans are;

Chocolate Spot: - This is the most widespread and damaging disease
of beans grown in Ireland. Symptoms appear as reddish-brown spots,
which eventually enlarge to give a more damaging aggressive phase
in cool, wet or damp weather. Winter beans are more likely to suffer
yield losses, especially where the plant population is high and the crop
becomes tall. Early fungicide treatment is essential if the crop shows
symptoms at first bud or early flower. Products like Signum (boscalid +
pyraclostrobin), Folicur (tebuconazole), Amistar (azoxystrobin) and Rover
500 (chlorothalonil) are the most effective products available to control the
Downy Mildew: Attacks the youngest leaves of the plant and can cause
significant yield loss particularly in wet seasons. Mildew is prevalent
on spring beans, where it causes greyish-brown, felty growth on the
under-surface of the leaves. Some varieties have better resistance to the
disease and 1 - 9 ratings are given on the PGRO Rec List. Basfoliar Activ
(potassium phosphite + nutrients) is very a useful, low cost product at
helping to prevent downy mildew infection pre-flowering. Other products
available include Dithane (mancozeb) and Ridomil Gold (metalaxyl-M +
mancozeb). All can be mixed with another foliar fungicide, especially on the
more susceptible varieties if conditions are suitable for infection.
Rust: Attacks the leaves in periods of warm, dry weather, typically
characterised by numerous reddish-brown pustules on the leaves. It is
more serious on spring beans and, all varieties are susceptible. Most
damage occurs if infection begins during flowering and pod set. Fungicides
such as Folicur (tebuconazole), Amistar (azoxystrobin), Rover 500
(chlorothalonil) and Signum (boscalid + pyraclostrobin) may improve yield
in either winter or spring beans, but treatment is unlikely to be worthwhile
if infection begins when pod fill is complete and the crop is beginning to

Pest Control

Bean Stem Nematode: The BSN is very harmful to bean crops and can
reduce yields significantly if crops are infected. The pest is both seed borne
and soil borne and can live in the soil for many years in between crops.
Goldcrop recommend that all fields intended for beans should be sampled
prior to sowing to check for the presence of BSN. Equally, growers should
only use certified seed that is guaranteed / tested free of BSN to ensure
that ‘clean’ land is not infected by ‘unclean’ seed.
Birds: Crows and pheasants can be troublesome in the emerging crop.
Deep sowing, below 8cm is important. Use bird scarers and shooting to
prevent crop damage / loss.

Bean Weevil: The pest can cause damage to spring beans if large
numbers appear when plants are small. Leaves of attacked plants show
characteristic ‘U’ shaped notches around the edges, but the main damage
occurs as a result of the larvae feeding on the root nodules. Sprays may
be applied at the first sign of leaf damage and repeated after 7 - 10 days.
Control adults with a contact insecticide such as Decis (deltamethrin) or
Dimethoate at the first sign of damage.

Black Bean Aphid: Black bean aphid can be very damaging to field beans
if colonies develop just prior to flowering. Spring-sown crops are usually
more likely to suffer damaging attacks than winter beans. As well as
forming dense, smothering colonies on the upper part of the stem, these
and the less obvious pea aphid are able to transmit several viruses which
add to the yield loss. Aphids can be controlled using Aphox (pirimicarb) as
soon as 5% of the plants have been colonised. Care must be taken if using
other insecticides, especially when flowers are present on the crop, as there
is a serious risk to bees.


Harvesting typically takes place in September or October, depending on
the sowing date, summer weather conditions and whether a winter or
spring variety is grown. Early maturing varieties are best to ensure a timely
Bean pods blacken and seed becomes dry and hard first, but stems usually
remain green for longer. Bean leaves usually fall during ripening and a
desiccant has little effect on stems, so weed-free crops are not normally
desiccated. If the crop is very weedy or has a few small late-set pods which
are still green, a desiccant can aid harvesting. It should be applied when at
least 90% of pods are dry and black and most seed is dry. Reglone (diquat)
is usually the product of choice although various glyphosate products (e.g.
Roundup, Gallup etc) can also be used.


Certified Seed

“Typically, plant breeding contributes 1.0 – 1.5% yield improvement per annum”

Winter Barley8.2010.30+ 2.10 (25%)
Winter Wheat9.5612.10+ 2.54 (26%)
Spring Barley6.708.50+ 1.80 (27%)

Certified Seed is a fully traceable product that is part of a world-wide quality assurance system that certifies that the bag or sack of seed contains what it states on the label and meets certain minimum quality standards, thus giving the end user the highest possible degree of confidence in the seed product being purchased at all times. Certified Seed is the cornerstone of many farming operations and various food and beverage industries. Irish Certified Seed is produced to the highest standards, providing growers with a guaranteed standard of varietal purity, germination, and phyto-sanitary status.

Certified Cereal Seed

The certification scheme for cereal seeds involves plant breeders and their agents, grain merchants and seed assemblers, DAFM, and hundreds of Irish cereal growers who annually produce in excess of 40,000 tonnes of seed grain for the native market. Varieties that successfully make it through Value for Cultivation & Use (VCU) testing in Irish national trials are selected for multiplication by the breeders/seed agents, with the best varieties gaining approval on our Recommended Lists.

All fields growing certified seed are rigorously inspected by DAFF officials prior to harvest. After harvest, all seed lots and individual varieties are kept separate and closely monitored at the seed intake points. Each seed lot is carefully dried, stored and sampled for disease, purity, and germinative capacity. Only seeds that meet the minimum EU standards are certified and approved for sale.
It is illegal to trade uncertified seed of any species under EU and Irish law.

Plant Breeding – the key to our future

Genetic improvement and the consequential productivity benefits are key components of the continuous enhancement and competitiveness of the Irish farming industry. This statement applies to all agri- sectors, including cereal growing. In the same way that technology has evolved in every other enterprise globally, so too have plant breeding techniques. Key characteristics such as yield (see Table 1), lodging resistance, plant health, and overall grain quality have improved significantly in recent decades – a recent NIAB/BSPB commissioned study found that almost 90% of the increase in average cereal yields over the past 25 years can be attributed to innovations in plant breeding.

Typically, plant breeding contributes 1.0 – 1.5% yield improvement per annum
The plant breeding process is very expensive and time consuming and has to be continually funded to ensure viability. Therefore, each variety introduced to the market is ‘patent protected’ by Plant Breeders Rights (a form of intellectual property rights) which ensures a return on investment to the parent breeding company. Certified seed is the principal mechanism by which royalty income is returned to the plant breeders to fund their continued investment in new variety development.

Farm Saved Seed

Farm Saved Seed (FSS) is legally defined as seed planted on a farmers own holding using material harvested on his own holding. The regulation of FSS in Ireland is governed under SI No. 193/2000.
All FSS must pay royalty at the rate of 50% of the sum charged for licensed certified production. FSS is not produced to the same standards, has no guarantee of germination or disease status, and has no come- back in the event of establishment issues. It is illegal to sell FSS.

Payment of FSS Royalties

Farm Saved Seed (FSS) royalties must be declared to the Plant Variety Development Office (PVDO) in Dublin. For further information, please see the website www.pvdo.ie

Winter Barley Key Agronomy Guidelines – The Basics!

Plant Population – It’s a numbers game….

  • When compared to Wheat, Barley cannot compensate fully for lack of ears, therefore aim for 300-330 established plants per m2.
  • This can mean a high seed rate for varieties with a large grain size.e.g. Tower, TGW=60g. Establishment rate=80%. Target 320 plants/m2.
  • Sowing Rate = 217kg/Ha or 13.8stn/acre

Preventing Bydv

Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) is a most damaging infection in winter barley, and can reduce yields by 30% if not treated. With the loss of Redigo Deter seed dressing, the use and correct timing of insecticides along with cultural methods such as later planting and minimising the green bridge threat become ever more important.
Plant breeders are also close to developing and introducing new varieties that will be resistant to BYDV infection (not just tolerant) which will be a great step forward – watch this space!!.

Early Nitrogen

– February application to build a bulky crop of stems and leaf (barley fills its grain from leaf & stem reserves).

Barley ideally needs ALL of its N applied by the end of tillering/start of stem extension. This can mean the first N (40-50 units/ac) is to be applied in mid-February in the South of the country. 7-10 days later further North.
Don’t forget Sulphur and Manganese etc. A mild autumn/winter can create extra demand for Trace Elements (especially Mn) as plants try to grow with limited root systems.
Apply CCC early, once growth commences – a cheap tool to maintain tiller numbers, this early CCC not only helps tiller survival but it also evens out tiller size for the season, thus easing spray timing decisions and making ripening more uniform.

Disease Control

Obviously variety choice and sowing date will have a big impact on potential disease pressure.
Trials show that early fungicide application (mid-late tillering) is vital for good yields where disease pressure is high. The application of 2 x SDHI based
fungicides partnered with a good triazole is recommended, together with the inclusion of Chlorothalonil (CTL) at the T2 / T3 timings.
Early infection of Ramularia was observed in some crops in spring 2017, this suggests that there is a case for adding CTL in the T2 fungicide application as opposed to just in the final spray.
There may be more scope to delay this first spray in newer cleaner varieties (e.g. KWS Infinity) in some situations.

Grass Weeds

Beware of grass weeds such as Sterile Brome, Meadow Brome, Black Grass etc in winter barley. There are no chemical control options for these in winter barley. Pay particular attention to headlands where populations of
such weeds can increase rapidly.
Good cultural practice is vital – clean seed, rotation with spring crops/non cereal break crops, stale seed beds post-harvest, hand-rogueing, good
ploughing and avoid dragging grass out from hedges.

Key Points for the Production of a Successful Crop of Winter Oilseed Rape


  • Choose a proven variety – do not take chances with such a high value crop
  • Reliable yield performance, good standing power and good disease resistance
  • Hybrid types can be useful for overcoming pest and weather issues


  • Sow early – 15th August to 10th September, earlier the better as big plants will deal better with slug and pigeon attack A well established crop can also provide potential to reduce N usage in the spring.
  • Clear previous crop quickly to ensure suitable sowing date, winter barley ideal for this
    Pay attention to sowing rate, base decisions on TGW & conditions, aim for 30 to 40 plants per sq metre in spring (hybrids and conventional varieties)
  • Various establishment methods can be used, strip till, plough, min-till, direct drill,
  • Monitor carefully for flea beetle at early stages

Weed Control

  • Butisan or Katamaran Turbo (Cleavers & Poppy), apply immediately after rolling or delay until very early post emergence if heavy rain forecast after sowing
  • Graminicide (eg Falcon, Fusilade Max, Stratos Ultra) for volunteer cereals & wild oats
  • Salsa can be very effective at controlling Charlock if applied early to the actively growing weed
  • Astrokerb is a useful weed-control product as it gives excellent control of broadleaf & grass weeds at an economical cost (note rules regarding baling of OSR haulm).

Crop Nutrition, Disease Control & Growth Regulation

  • WOSR has a high demand for N & Sulphur, less so for P & K. Use Green Area Index (GAI) phone apps from BASF or Yara to calculate total N requirement in spring. Applying some of the N late will greatly benefit pod fill and eventual yield. Hold back approx. 30-40 units N till the latest time at which you can spread over the crop
  • Don’t forget micronutrients such as Boron & Magnesium
  • Fungicide choice will be based on requirement for crop shortening versus disease control; Prothioconazole is excellent for disease control whereas Metconazole & Tebuconazole are better where shortening is required


  • Direct harvesting with combine harvester safer in Irish climate than swathing
  • Desiccation with Glyphosate and the use of Pod Sealants makes the ripe standing crop more shed resistant
  • Extendable headers greatly improve harvesting output and reduce losses
  • Crop will take 2 1/2 – 3 weeks to ripen following desiccation. Once the crop is ripe, the moisture content will drop very quickly in the right weather (on a good harvest day, the mc% of a ripe crop will drop by 1% per hour).