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Crop Update: 28 July 2017

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HARVEST AND STORAGE OF PULSES

Field bean desiccation

If the crop is infested with green weedy material, or has a few late set pods which are still green, application of a desiccant will aid combining. As well as increasing production costs there may also be loss of crop from the passage of the sprayer when desiccating.

Desiccation will not advance seed maturity and has a slow effect on green stems. It is important to apply the desiccant at the correct stage of maturity. Application before this stage may result in reduced yield or loss of seed quality.

The most widely used material is diquat. A non-ionic surfactant can be added. Apply when 90% of the pods are dry and black and most of the seed is dry. At this stage most of the leaves have senesced and fallen but the stems are still green. The contact action is fast and harvesting can be carried out 4-7 days later. It can be used on crops for animal feed, human consumption or seed.

Glyphosate is not a true desiccant but can be used as a pre-harvest treatment to control perennial weeds. It must not be used on crops destined for seed.
 
Field bean harvest
Beans are often perceived as being able to withstand harvest delays long after other crops such as cereals have been harvested. Other operations, including seedbed preparations and oilseed rape sowing, can often take priority over bean harvest.

However, once beans are ready to harvest, the quality will begin to deteriorate. If pods split and beans are exposed to light this will cause the seed coat to darken and increase the amount of crop loss during harvesting. When mature, cycles of wet and dry weather increase the chances of staining if they are not harvested. Quality is key to achieve the human consumption premium.
 
Drying and storage for combining peas and field beans
The quality standard for peas and beans is usually 14% moisture content (MC) with 2% impurities, or a combination of the two that should not exceed 16%. Drying can be more difficult with peas and beans than with cereals due to seed size, and while damaged produce is acceptable for compounding, mouldy produce is not.

Peas and beans should not be over-dried, and at higher temperatures texture may be affected and peas may split.

The large size of bean seeds makes drying difficult as they have a low resistance to air flow. It takes time to move moisture from the inside to the outside hence slow, gentle drying with ambient air is best.

The tables below detail the maximum recommended drying temperatures:

Maximum drying temperatures – Peas

Product

%MC

Max drying temperature

Seed

>24%

37°C

Seed

<24%

43°C

Human consumption

>24%

43°C

Human consumption

<24%

49°C


Maximum drying temperatures – Beans

Product

%MC

Max drying temperature

Seed

>24%

34 - 38°C

Seed

<24%

38 - 43°C

Human consumption

 

43 - 49°C

 Any type of dryer may be used for peas and beans, but those operating at low temperatures are safer.

Floor-ventilated bins are easy and relatively safe to operate. When the initial moisture content is high, the transfer of the produce from bin to bin and the use of warmed air together with adequate ventilation may be necessary to avoid mould developing in the upper layers.

Radially-ventilated bins allow faster drying than floor-ventilated bins, but care must be taken not to overheat peas and beans.
On-floor drying using ambient or warmed air can be used, and provided there is sufficient volume of air?and adequate ventilation, peas of relatively high moisture content can be dried using this method. Care must be taken not to load beans too deep if moisture content is high and if lateral ducts are spaced wider than 1 m.

Continuous flow driers designed to work on a short period/high temperature basis need more careful operation than other systems for peas. Use of continuous flow driers should be avoided for beans where quality is important since they may cause cracking.

For safe storage, the maximum moisture content of peas depends upon the method and the length of time they are to be stored. Peas may be safely stored for up to 4 weeks at 17% MC, but if they are to be stored until the following spring, the moisture content should not be above 15%. If the peas are in bulk with forced ventilation or frequently moved, the moisture content can be 1% higher.

Storage in dark areas is recommended for beans destined for the human consumption market to delay the development of tannins which cause beans to discolour. Beans must be dried down to 14% MC for long-term storage in bulk - this is important since beans are often stored for some time before they are sold.

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