There are two main market classes for faba beans: food and feed. Large seed size is an important trait for certain classes of food grade faba beans. Faba beans grown for the food market have coloured flowers and tan to brown seed coats that contain tannins. White flowered faba beans contain extremely low levels of tannin and are suitable as a high protein livestock feed. Fractionation of faba bean seed into flour, starch, and protein is a developing market option that is just in its infancy. Approximately 60 per cent of the faba beans grown in Saskatchewan are low-tannin types.
Faba bean regional trials were revived in 2006 to accommodate the growing interest in this crop as a nitrogen-fixing, high-protein feed grain. It is targeted for the areas of Saskatchewan with higher moisture, where producers experience problems with pea diseases. Variety trials are also conducted under irrigated conditions.
When reviewing variety data on faba beans, consider the following:
- Maturity is a concern, as faba beans are a long season crop. Early varieties have the best chance of avoiding fall frost damage.
- The maturity rating is the average number of days from sowing to swathing and will be longer if seeding is delayed or if the season is cool and wet.
The varieties recommended for production under irrigation are evaluated at Outlook at the Canada Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre (CSIDC).