Growing at Glebelands - Broad Beans

Botanical name: Vicia faba
Family (for rotation): Legumes
500-700 sds/kg - 1000 seeds=1200g - seed rate 1.4kg/100m²
Seeds can keep 2-3 yrs
Sowing depth: 4cm, min sowing temp 5ºC, seedling emergence 7-21 days
Yield can be 30t/hectare
Best varieties (P Sumption2005) – Witkeim Manita, Witkeim, Green Windsor, Hangdown Green, Express

Reputedly full of protein, fibre and vitamins A, C & E

Site & soil preference:Make sure soil not compacted. Hardy – but overwintered varieties may need protection Nov-Mar. Best to prepare stale seedbed.

Sowing & harvest sequence:Overwintered sowings can take 28 wks to mature, spring sowings 12 wks. Harvest from plants under cover can be 2 weeks earlier.

Can sow late Oct-Dec to overwinter (can be 1” high over winter) – rows 2 ft apart – harvest beginning Jun to end Jul. Need well drained soil, not too cold – may need cloche protection on heavy clay soil. Best variety for this is Aquedulce. Autumn/winter sowings can avoid blackfly.

Sow in spring as early as possible when beds ready – make successive sowings, as late as mid April, though later sowings may suffer from drought and are much more prone to blackfly. Best spacing so far: 2 double rows per bed, with seeds (staggered) 8-9 ” apart in each row – ie 4 rows altogether per bed (60 plants/10ft). Highest yields from 2 plants/ft ² (Joy Larkcom)

Good to flame weed (preferably after rain or irrigation, to get weed germination) before seedlings emerge.

Harvest from end June – length of harvest depends on weather and ability to irrigate.

Cultivation: Hoe while plants small. Irrigate in dry spells to prevent plants becoming stressed. Water when in flower to prevent set drop & fill pods – best done in evening to let plants take up as much moisture as possible (but at Glebelands obviously water whenever necessary & possible!) Can pinch out top of plant when in full flower, or when 4 trusses formed to prevent blackfly infestation & help pods swell – pinch out 4-6” from top of plant – not absolutely necessary, but can help against pests!

Harvesting: Need to pick frequently to keep plants producing and avoid pods becoming hard. Pick when beans quite large in pods -customers don’t want little beans! – if unsure, open a few before commencing to harvest. However, avoid pods becoming old and tough.

Pick straight into boxes, keep boxes clean and stackable.

Other notes: Fungal disease chocolate spot can be problem on badly grown, overcrowded plants, or plants with insufficient moisture – avoid these conditions by ensuring soil fertile, spacing good and irrigate when necessary. Mild attacks usually only affect stems and foliage.