A British Staple....
It is estimated the UK gets through two thousand tonnes of baked beans every year with the largest UK factory making an average of three million cans in 24 hours.
Baked beans are made using the navy bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) – also known as haricot beans, which are grown in the summer and left to dry on the plant before being harvested and then shipped to the UK from Canada.
So why not grow them in the UK?
The main reason is the lack of available navy bean varieties that are adapted to growing in the UK environment.
What the breeders are working towards are a navy bean which is less sensitive to cold soil in the spring; is resistant to common diseases that occur over the summer and is also ready for harvest in early September.
A shortened growing season is most important as navy beans in the UK have to be harvested in September when it is still dry to avoid autumnal damp weather which causes them to discolour.
These photographs taken of a field containing a new variety under test which will hopefully bring us closer towards commercial crops in the UK