What are faba beans?
Faba bean (Vicia faba) is an annual plant with coarse, upright unbranched stems, 1 metre to 2 metres tall with one or more hollow stems coming from the base. Faba bean has the ability to tiller under Alberta growing conditions. Faba bean is an erect-growing annual legume included in the same genus as vetch. It differs markedly from vetch in morphology and is not regarded as being closely related to most other species of the genus.
- classically, faba bean is divided into three sub-species: major, equina and minor, primarily on the basis of seed size
- smaller seeded horsebean (V. faba equina) and tickbean (V. faba minor) are grown as protein crops in many areas of the world, both for human consumption and for livestock
- these two sub-species include a seed weight ranging from 200 to 800 grams per 1000 seeds
- V. faba major generally has a 1000 seed weight of over 800 grams and is commonly called broadbean; it is grown primarily for human consumption
- the leaves (up to 8 cm long) are alternate, pinnate, and consist of 2 to 6 leaflets each
- plants are without tendrils, or with only rudimentary tendrils
- has a large tap root and extensive secondary root system
- new low tannin varieties are white flowered (without purple flower markings), and the seed has about 15 per cent more useable energy
- clusters of 1 to 5 flowers are borne on short pedicels, on axillary racemes, usually between the 5 to 10 node stage (1 to 4 pods will develop from each flower cluster)
- old varieties are more indeterminate in their growth habit while some of the newer varieties are more determinate, resulting in earlier maturity
Where do faba beans grow?
A relative newcomer in Alberta, faba beans are grown across the province and exported to areas like the Middle East and Asia. Lower input costs and good standability for this crop makes faba beans a good fit for many crop growers.
Will faba beans fit in my crop rotation?
Consider growing faba beans if…
- You live in Southern Alberta, Central Alberta, or the Peace River Region.
- You’re looking for a hardy cool-season crop that can tolerate frost.
- You’re growing on deep, medium-textured soils that have good water holding capacity.
- You want to spread out your workload with early seeding and harvest.
- You’re looking for a pulse crop that has good lodging resistance.
- You’re interested in marketing flexibility that includes markets for both human consumption and animal feed.