Fava beans: A new multipurpose crop for New England

2014 Annual Report for GNE14-078

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2014: $14,995.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Grant Recipient: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Masoud Hashemi
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Fava beans: A new multipurpose crop for New England


Fava beans is a cool season legume crop with high nutrition values and has the potential to be grown as a new cash crop in Northeastern U.S. It can be seeded as early as mid-March and harvested in time for growing another cash crop. Fava beans also can be grown after harvesting spring planted cash crop and be used as cover crop. Fava beans have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen under various environmental conditions, acts as a break crop in crop rotation, and provide feed to pollinators and beneficial insects. We propose to demonstrate the feasibility of growing fava beans in Massachusetts and determine basic information suitable to Massachusetts condition including, varieties, time of planting, seeding rate, fertility requirement and to demonstrate the feasibility of transplanting Fava Beans to ensure its early planting.


The nitrogen contribution of Fava Beans to subsequent each crop will be assessed.


Fava Beans is known to have high concentration of L-Dopa which is currently used for remediation of Parkinson disease. The concentration and accumulation trend of L-Dopa in various parts of Fava Beans including roots, stems, terminal buds and seeds will be determined. A guide for growers of Fava Beans that covers major agronomic practices will be published. Also, a cost-income analysis to determine the profitability of double cropping fava beans with another cash crop will be performed. Educational and outreach include web-based factsheets and videos posted on the Center for Agriculture, Food, and Environment University of Massachusetts.



Objectives/Performance Targets

The main objective of this study is to collect and disseminate technical information to support growers in New England to include Fava Beans in their cropping system. This project will evaluate and promote the multiple benefits of growing fava beans as a new cash crop for New England.


We will:


(1) Demonstrate the feasibility of growing fava beans and its use as multi-purpose crop


(2) Provide basic information and agronomic practices including varieties, time of planting, method of planting and seeding rate suitable to Massachusetts climate condition


(3) Feasibility of transplanting fava beans as an alternative method to direct seeding to ensure early planting


(4) Assess contribution of nitrogen from fava beans to succeeding cash crop


(5) Determining amount and distribution of L-dopa in plant parts during the growing season


(6) Perform cost-income analysis of growing multi-purpose fava beans.


This project contains two major phases during 2014 and 2015 growing seasons which will be conducted at the University of Massachusetts Crops and Animal Research and Education Center in South Deerfield. For date and method of planting, plant spacing,treatments includes type of planting (direct seeding, transplanting), date of planting (March 30 Direct, April 10 and 25 transplant). Plots are consisted of 2 rows which are 2.5 feet wide and 25 feet long. Windsor variety will be grown on April 1st and 15th in green house for transplanting on April 10th and 25th, respectively. For N contribution of Fava Beans residue we will use plants located outside of the final harvest area of April 1st date of planting. Fava beans will be carefully digged out, washed, chopped and mixed thoroughly to provide a uniform residue mix. The half of residues will be incorporated (for conventional planting systems) and the other half will be left on the soil (for No-till planting systems). Sixty mesh bags will be filled with 200 g of fresh chopped residues. Thirty bags will be left on soil surface and the other thirty bags will be placed at the depth of 15 cm. for evaluating fava beans genotypes, eight varieties will be planted in field to evaluate morphology, yield performance, and sensitivity to chocolate spot diseases of eight varieties; Aquadulce, CPE-6926 Bell Bean, Early Violetto, Delle Cascine, Early White, VBE-2210 D’Aquadulce, Sweet Lorane, and Windsor. Fava beans seeds will be planted in the green house on April 1st and transplanted into the main field 10-12 days later. Some morphological characteristics including, time of first flowering, pod formation, height of plants, and height of first pod from ground, will be determined.Yield and yield components will also be determined based on harvesting 20 Sq ft from center of the rows. Susceptibility to chocolate bacteria will be scouted at the flowering stage prior to pod formation. Economic analysis, based on seed cost and pod fresh weight and N contribution of each variety to the next cash crop, will be assessed. Protein content of the seeds will be measured using NIR method. Extra rows of transplants will be considered in April 10th planting time to measure L-Dopa content in different plant organs and its accumulation trend over time from vegetative stage to full maturity.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Since only 25% of the experiment is completed, no outcomes have yet been determined. Four experiments will be conducted to address various aspects of growing fava beans in Massachusetts condition. Windsor which is currently the only available variety of fava beans in the region will be used in all experiments, and will be included in variety trial. Several varieties will be evaluated for their morphology, yield performance, and susceptibility to the chocolate bacteria.


But preliminary studies at the University of Massachusetts Crops and Animal Research and Education Center in South Deerfield, showed that:



    • Fava Bean must be planted as early as possible in March to avoid chocolate bacteria disease, during hot summer.


    • Early planting of fava beans provides the opportunity for its multi-purpose use.


    • Fall planting of fava beans produced large biomass but failed to produce pods.


    • Transplanting fava beans is feasible but plants should not be grown in green house for more than 10-12 days.



Masoud Hashemi

Extention professor faculy member
Bowditch hall, 201 Natural resources rd
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4134783897