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Faba Bean Seeding

Seed faba bean as early in the spring as possible. In all areas of the province, faba bean should be seeded by May 7 to ensure enough time for proper maturity.

  • Seed Depth: 1.5–2.0 inches (not too shallow)
  • Soil Temperature: 3–5º C
  • Seeding Dates: before May 7
  • Seeding Rates: 45 plants per square metre
  • 1,000 Kernel Rate: 350–425
  • Seeds Per Pound: 1,300

The Government of Alberta’s Seeding Rate Calculator can help you determine the proper faba bean seeding rate. To ensure the best results, use seed with both high germination and vigour.

Smaller seeded varieties of faba bean can be seeded with the same grain drills you use for other crops, but larger seeded varieties may require an alternative seeding mechanism. Choose a hoe press drill over double disc drills, as double disc drills can leave some seed on the soil surface when used in heavy trash or higher speeds, but air seeders are a good alternative to ground driven drills. Just keep in mind that high velocity air flow can damage dry seed.

Pre-seeding Considerations

Preparation and planning are keys to successful faba bean production.

  • in the year before you plant faba bean, grow a competitive crop, and control problem weeds with herbicides and/or tillage – use pre-harvest glyphosate (Roundup®, Laredo®, Wrangler®, Renegade®, Victor®) according to label directions to control perennial weeds
  • do not use herbicides that leave residues harmful to a faba bean crop
  • plant into a clean seedbed
  • follow good management practices such as seeding into a moist seedbed, using sufficient seed and adequate plant nutrients to ensure the faba bean crop is as competitive and fast growing as possible
  • check wait periods between using certain herbicides and the seeding of faba bean

Seeding Management

  • prior to seeding, test all seed for germination and vigour
  • faba bean needs a specific inoculant with the proper strain of rhizobium
  • inoculant may be peat based, liquid or granular
  • treatment with a fungicide to reduce seed-borne disease and seedling rot is recommended, especially for low tannin varieties

Time of Seeding

  • seed faba bean as early in the spring as possible – in all areas of the province, faba bean should be seeded by May 7 to ensure enough time for proper maturity
  • faba bean will germinate and emerge in soils as cool as 3˚ to 5˚ C
  • faba bean seed requires a good supply of soil moisture to germinate and for the seedlings to emerge from a depth of 1.5 to 2 in.

Seeding Rates

  • faba bean population densities for optimum yield are recommended at 400,000 plants per hectare (160,000 plants per acre), 40 plants/m2 (4 plants/ft.2)
  • do a 1000 seed weight (1000kwt) on each seed lot prior to seeding to determine proper seeding rates – seed weights vary due to variety and growing conditions
  • calibrate seed drills for each variety and seed lot prior to seeding, to ensure optimum seeding rates For information on seeding rates (see Using 1,000 Kernel Weight for Calculating Seeding Rates and Harvest Losses, Agdex 100/22-1). Seeding rate calculation (to achieve 4 viable plants per square foot) Seeding rate (lb./ac.) = desired plant population/ft.2 x 1,000 kernel weight (g) ÷ expected seed survival

Seeding Equipment

  • growers can use the same grain drills for smaller seeded faba bean as those used for other crops – for very large seeded varieties, alterations to the seeding mechanism may be required
  • hoe press drills are preferred over double disc drills because when using disc drills in heavy trash or at higher speeds, some seed will be left on the soil surface
  • ensure the drill has large enough seed cups and adequate metering devices to handle this large seeded crop
  • adjust the drill to obtain as even a seed flow as possible
  • maintain constant ground speed for even seed distribution
  • air seeders are an alternative to ground driven drills; they plant seeds with precision regardless of slope or varying ground speed, but uniform depth control may be a problem – very high air flow speeds may damage faba bean seeds, especially at severe bends or corners in the distribution lines and hoses
  • ensure air seeders are equipped to handle and seed faba bean at the proper seeding rate

Seeding Depth

  • plant seeds 1.5 – 2 inches deep, depending on soil moisture
  • avoid shallower seeding, especially in sandy soils
  • uniform seeding into moisture will ensure uniform germination and emergence as well as a more uniform crop at maturity

Post-seeding Considerations

  • following seeding, the seedbed should be well packed to conserve moisture and ensure an even germination
  • throughout the summer, fields should be routinely checked for weed, insect and disease infestations so that control measures can be taken early

Growing Stages

Faba bean plants grow at a rate of around 1 node per week. Because stems are strong and upright, the plant can grow from 3 to 6 ft tall. This growth continues until the plant is stressed.

At the 8 to 10 node growth stage, when the plant is around 12 inches high, faba bean plants produce their first flowers, usually in late June or early July. Both flowers and pod begin along the stem around 8 inches off the ground. Though faba bean plants produce many flowers, only around one-quarter of the flowers will produce pods, which contain three to four seeds.

Post-emergent herbicides should be applied before the crop reaches 8 inches high.