Faba bean acreage is soaring — and so is knowledge about growing them

Herbicide sensitivity and heat susceptibility were two issues, and lygus bugs seem to find them tasty

fababean crop
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Alberta is coming off of a pretty good year for faba beans and that brought with it some valuable lessons learned, says an Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development researcher.

“This year we saw acreage go from 30,000 to close to 80,000,” said Robyne Bowness, pulse research scientist in Lacombe. “We had more farmers growing faba beans this year, and farmers growing more acres.”

A lot was learned this year about growing this relatively new crop.

“We saw some herbicide residue issues this year we hadn’t seen before,” she said. “We’re finding that faba beans are very sensitive to herbicides, and that they are actually used as an indicator crop in some areas to test for herbicide residue.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on this to see just how sensitive faba beans are and watch which herbicides we use the year or two before.”

Another area of interest was insects.

“Are bertha army worms going to be a major concern? We don’t know,” said Bowness. “We do know lygus bugs are a big problem. There’s a lot of canola around and lygus bugs like to fly off the canola into the fabas. We do have entomologists trying to get a handle on this.”

Stresses on faba beans was another area of learning.

“We knew faba beans were susceptible to heat but we were a bit surprised at how sensitive they are. And there were some areas in the province where we thought there was going to be enough moisture for faba beans, but there wasn’t. Frost was a problem this year as well because faba bean is a large, high moisture seed and cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. Many faba beans froze and turned black. This created concern about marketing a lower-quality product.”

Bowness says she expects there will be even more faba bean grown this year.

“I think we will see 100,000 to 120,000 or more acres this year simply because the producers who like them are going to grow more, and new producers are looking to get in on the crop as well.”

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