Yukon spring bean might sit at the foot of the PGRO Descriptive List (DL) for yield – but there’s a lot more to the Yukon story than appears at first glance.

Three key ratings from the DL underline Yukon’s considerable strengths: Yukon is the earliest to mature on the DL with a highest ‘8’ rating; it has the highest resistance score for Downy mildew with a DL rating of  ‘8’; and when it comes to looking at market outlets, Yukon has the highest Thousand seed weight of 622 (g @15%mc).

How do these excellent agronomic and marketability pluses leave it so low on the list instead of near the top when it comes to yield? The most likely explanation is that Yukon’s earliness over other varieties had an adverse influence on its yield figures in official trials where, of necessity, the trials have to be harvested closely together.

Looking at the Yukon’s performance in detail underlines a set of practical benefits both to growers and in the marketplace:

On farm experience by growers show that its earliness translates into it being ready for harvest around two weeks earlier than most spring beans. This stood out on a farm in Fife where the Yukon was harvested 14 days before most of the other spring beans in the area.

High on the East Yorkshire Wolds, the picture (see below) shows the other leading spring bean variety in the same field being harvested while Yukon is safely off the land and in the barn – also giving the opportunity to get wheat in earlier,

Yukon’s highest Downy mildew resistance of ’8’ on the DL compared to the list’s average of ‘4’ is a plus for southern spring bean growers as well as those in the north of England and Scotland.

Turning to the marketplace, Michael Temple, of Wherry & Sons Ltd, comments: “One of our key roles is to connect farmers and end-users in the marketing of new varieties of pulses for consumer markets.

“The bold, characteristically golden, sample from Yukon (see below) is a good colour and uniform – ideal when we are looking at both UK and export human consumption markets.”

Michael Shuldham, pulse product manager for LS Plant Breeding Ltd, Yukon’s breeders, sums up: “its early maturity with the added benefits of the highest Downy mildew resistance rating and exceptional seed quality means it merits a place in the rotation for all growers, and an equally strong place in the market where all end users want it for human consumption.”

Sample of Yukon and another leading spring bean grown in the same East Yorkshire field in 2023.
Harvesting the other spring bean (left) with Yukon safely off the land and in the barn (on right).
Michael Temple of Wherry & Sons Ltd in field (May).