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Faba Bean Seeding

For best results, follow the recommendations in this section on selecting a site, seeding management, residue management, inoculation and fertilization.  For control of weeds, please seed Weed Control.

Site Selection

CHOOSE

  • 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.
  • Faba beans can handle higher moisture soils than other pulses and will tolerate saturated soils for a short time.

AVOID

  • Avoid rocky fields. Harvest operations are usually done close to the soil surface, and rocks can damage a combine.
  • Avoid poorly drained fields to reduce the incidence of seed and seedling diseases.

PLAN AHEAD

  • In the year before you plant faba bean, grow a competitive crop, and control problem weeds with herbicides and/or tillage.
  • Use a pre-harvest glyphosate according to label directions to control perennial weeds.
  • Faba beans are HIGHLY SENSITIVE to herbicide residues, check cropping restrictions on herbicides used in the last two years. Faba beans can be damaged to some pre-emergent herbicide combinations.  
  • To maximize the benefits of faba beans in your rotation, choose fields that have low nitrogen levels. Fallow fields, manured fields or fields with failed crops from the previous season, may have higher levels of available nitrogen and should be avoided.
  • Available soil nitrogen levels over 55 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare or 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre may inhibit nitrogen fixation since faba beans will preferentially use the soil nitrogen rather than fixing nitrogen.
  • High moisture coupled with high soil nitrogen (commonly found on fallow fields) can produce excessive vegetative growth, may reduce pod set and seed production, and may delay maturity, especially for late-maturing varieties.

MAINTAIN GOOD RECORDS

  • Keep good records on herbicides used in previous crops – some leave residues that will injure the faba bean crop. Always read the herbicide label and pay close attention to re-cropping restrictions.

SEED MANAGEMENT

Faba Bean Seeding Recommendations

Faba Beans Ready to Plant

SEED

  • Prior to seeding, test all seed for germination and vigour.
  • Faba bean seed requires a good supply of soil moisture to germinate and for the seedlings to emerge.

SEEDING DATES

  • 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.
  • Early seeding is very important as faba beans are a long season crop and early seeding generally results in higher yields.
  • Faba bean seedlings can withstand some late spring frost. If the frost is severe enough to kill the main shoot, regrowth from buds at one of the nodes at or below the soil surface can occur, but maturity will be delayed.
  • Seeding early also advances crop maturity, reducing the probability of flower abortion associated with high temperatures at flowering. Faba beans are less tolerant than field peas of heat stress at flowering.

SEEDING DEPTH

  • Plant seeds 1.5 – 2 inches deep, depending on soil moisture, if soil moisture is significantly limited, faba beans can be planted up to 3 inches deep.
  • 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.

SEEDING RATE CALCULATOR

SEEDING RATES

  • 45 plants per square metre.
  • 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 1,000 seed weight (1,000 kwt) 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.

SEEDS PER POUND

  • 1,300 seeds per pound.
  • Thousand Kernel Weight (TKW) varies greatly in faba beans, ranging from 325 -750 grams/1000 seeds.
  • To achieve proper stands, it is critical to use TKW when determining seeding rate.

SOIL TEMPERATURE

  • 3–5ºC
  • Germination occurs when soil temperatures reach 3 to 5°C. Upon seedling emergence, faba bean cotyledons and seed coat remain below the soil surface.

Other Considerations

TYPE OF EQUIPMENT

  • 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. Pour a pail of seed through the drill prior to beginning to ensure seed does not bridge moving through the seed boot. Some farmers have found success putting seed in the fertilizer tank. 
  • 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.
  • Air seeders are a good alternative to ground driven drills. Just keep in mind that high velocity air flow can damage dry seed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ensure air seeders are equipped to handle and seed faba bean at the proper seeding rate.

Land Rolling

Land Rolling

GROWTH STAGES

  • To understand the growth stages of the Faba Bean, refer to Faba Bean Growth Staging Guide.
  • Faba bean plants grow at a rate of around one 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.

SEED TREATMENTS

  • Treatment with a fungicide to reduce seed-borne disease and seedling rot is recommended, especially for low tannin varieties.

POST SEEDING

  • Throughout the summer, fields should be routinely checked for weed, insect and disease infestations so that control measures can be taken early.

Seed Quality Testing and Evaluation

Faba Beans Emerging from the Soil

GERMINATION TESTING

  • Germination testing is one method for evaluating seed lots for quality.
  • Germination addresses the seed’s ability to develop into a normal, healthy plant under favourable field conditions.
  • This testing can be misleading because seed may germinate well in the lab due to optimum conditions being present or to the fact that the seed has every opportunity to develop into a normal healthy seedling.

VIGOUR TESTING

  • Vigour testing, another method, assesses the seed’s potential to withstand unfavourable field conditions by assessing certain factors that influence seed quality.
  • While vigour results represent the lowest germination obtained from the lot, germination testing represents the highest result. Actual field germination would normally fall between the two.

VARIABLES IMPACTING SEED QUALITY 

  • Germination and vigour are influenced by the physiological well-being and anatomical completeness of the seed plus its interaction with a wide range of environmental conditions.
  • Seed vigour is affected by:
    • genetic constitution
    • seed size and weight
    • mechanical integrity and soundness
    • deterioration, aging, and stage of maturity
    • pathogens
    • climatic conditions

COMBINED TESTING

  • In years where unfavourable weather conditions prevail, it is best to combine a vigour test with a germination test to determine seed quality and performance more accurately.
  • Be sure germination results include adequate categorization of the seedling defects and the seedling’s ability to survive adverse conditions.
  • It’s impossible to predict post-seeding conditions with a vigour test, so seed is placed under a variety of stressful conditions, simulating climatic conditions as closely as possible, including:
    • cold temperatures
    • wet conditions
    • micro-organisms
    • seed soaking
    • accelerated aging.
  • Under these conditions, the seed must demonstrate the ability to germinate into a vigorous seedling.

Evaluation

  • Testing for vigour is an important tool if it is suspected that seed has sustained some injury or that the soil environment will impose stress on the seed.
  • Mechanical injury, such as small seed coat cracks, results in rapid water intake that leads to dead seed cells – this dead tissue then becomes a source of food for invading pathogens.
  • Vigour tests must be combined with germination tests to predict field performance.
  • The seed may also require 1,000 seed weight and disease tests to completely assess the seed’s total quality.

Residue Management

FALL PRIOR

  • Use of proper straw and chaff management in the fall before seeding a faba bean crop is critical.
  • Heavy straw conditions can create seeding problems such as hair pinning with disc openers or plugging between the shanks of an air seeder.
  • Hair pinning refers to a condition where the seed is pushed down onto the straw layer by the opener, creating a wicking effect, where there is poor seed-to-soil contact and, as a result, patchy or poor germination of the faba bean crop.
  • Thick layers of chaff may also cause phytotoxicity to the next crop. 
  • Phytotoxicity is the phenomenon of reduced growth and yields of the next year’s crop due to toxic compounds leached from the residue and/or microbial activity that produces toxic compounds during breakdown of the residue.

Direct Seeding Considerations

  • Direct seeding is usually defined as seeding into standing stubble, but can also be referred to as reduced tillage.
  • Even and wide distribution of residue with a durable straw chopper and chaff spreader is vital.
  • To avoid plugging shanks, stubble height should be the same or less than the shank spacing of the seeding tool.

ROTATIONAL PLANNING

  • Proper rotational planning can also assist in managing heavy residue:
    • avoid planting high-residue crops back-to-back
    • include forages in the crop rotation
    • periodically bale and remove straw.

Alberta Faba Bean Producer Manual 

FEBRUARY 9, 2014 | Producers | Blog Post

Every year, the Alberta Pulse Growers offers two awards (April and December) that recognize projects done by post-secondary students enrolled in agricultural or food studies. The goal of the Pulse Growers Student Award is to encourage the discussion of pulse agronomy, economics and processing amongst students and to offer an opportunity to students to directly engage with the pulse industry.

Lindsey Douglas, Diana Laviolette-Brown, Xinyi Ma, Becky Shapka and Zhiyu Yu submitted the “Alberta Faba Bean Manual 1.0” which is intended to be a reference manual for growers in Alberta. The students determined there was a need for an updated production manual and completed this project during the fall as part of a Crop Science capstone course at the University of Alberta. The group of students compiled information from a variety of sources including producers, industry representatives, Alberta Agriculture, APG and academic papers into a document that Alberta farmers can reference when growing faba beans.

For more information, contact Nevin Rosaasen, Policy and Program Specialist at nrosaasen@albertapulse.com.

DISCLAIMER: The Alberta Faba Bean Producers Manual is a reference tool for growers in Alberta. The authors have tried to ensure that all information is accurate and complete. If there are any questions, please consult with one of the experts who assisted with the manual. All that is written is strictly for information purposes and the authors make no guarantee on the use and applicability of the information. The authors are not liable for any personal damages or losses encountered arising from the use of the information provided.