Fava beans: A new multipurpose crop for New England

2016 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 and to demonstrate the feasibility of transplanting Fava Beans to ensure its early planting. Also, 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 contained two major phases during 2014 and 2015 growing seasons which conducted at the University of Massachusetts Crops and Animal Research and Education Center in South Deerfield. For date and method of planting, row spacing, seed size, treatments included type of planting (direct seeding, transplanting), date of planting (March 30 Direct, April 15 and 30 transplant). Plots were consisted of 2 rows which are 2.5 feet wide and 25 feet long. Windsor variety grew on April 1st and 15th in green house for transplanting on April 15th and 30th, respectively. For N contribution of Fava Beans residue, we used plants located outside of the final harvest area of April 1st date of planting. Fava beans carefully digged out, washed, chopped and mixed thoroughly to provide a uniform residue mix.The half of residues incorporated (for conventional planting systems) and the other half left on the soil (for No-till planting systems). Sixty mesh bags filled with 200 g of fresh chopped residues. Thirty bags left on soil surface and the other thirty bags placed at the depth of 15 cm. for evaluating fava beans genotypes, eight varieties 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 planted in the green house on April 1st and transplanted into the main field 10 days later. Some morphological characteristics including, time of first flowering, pod formation, height of plants, and height of first pod from ground, determined. Yield and yield components also determined based on harvesting 20 Sqft from center of the rows. Susceptibility to chocolate bacteria scouted at the flowering stage prior to pod formation. Economic analysis, based on seed cost will be assessed. Extra rows of transplants considered in April 1st 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

As close to 75% of the experiment were done by 2015, the results of those parts were submitted by 2015. But, here

 “economical analysis” are presented. Our marketing study indicated that there is a good market for fava beans in New England. Wilson Farms, Whole Foods, and Russos are among the wholesales that are willing to purchase fava beans between $1:00 and $1:10 per pound. However, the quality of harvested fava beans was not as perfect as some of these wholesale purchaser required. This was partly due to black spots on some pods which could be due to the late planting in spring.  Also, vegetable growers, especially those who are involved in farmers markets and CSAs, are always looking for new markets. Fresh fava beans pods are commonly found in markets that cater to growing ethnic groups. Pods of fava bean can be harvested for fresh market in the spring while the remaining plant material can be incorporated into soil and serve as a leguminous cover crop. Growers have expressed their willingness to grow alternative cover crops to winter rye to boost their income and improve their soil quality. The marketability and cost/income analysis performed through this project is attractive enough to many vegetable growers as we concluded that when an appropriate variety is used and planted as early as possible in spring, one acre of fava bean can generate roughly $7,000 per acre.Table -2016


Masoud Hashemi

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