The broad bean or winter bean or Bankla bean/fava bean (Vicia faba) belonging to family Leguminosae, is the only bean, which can withstand sufficiently cold temperature and is grown successfully in winter or temperate climatic conditions. It is also known as horse bean, field bean, pigeon bean, and Windsor bean.
It is an excellent source of proteins and vitamins A, B, and C and minerals like iron and calcium. It is also rich in fiber. Broad bean is considered to be originated from the Middle East and is known to be cultivated since at least 4,500 BC. Today it is grown all over the world. China and Ethiopia are the largest broad bean-producing countries in the world. In India, it is mainly grown as a pulse crop, but its tender pods and shelled green seeds are also used as vegetables. It is grown in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and the Hills of Himalaya as a minor leguminous vegetable. The plants usually grow 90-120 cm tall. The leaves are 10-25 cm long, with fruits being pod and pubescent.
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Climate and soil
It can tolerate frost and requires temperate climate conditions, unlike other leguminous vegetables, which are grown in summer, and as such, it is grown from October to February in the plains. The seeds are able to germinate at a soil temperature as low as 2°C.
It can be grown on all kinds of soil. But for a good yield, slightly heavy soil is considered better than light soil. However, sandy loam or loamy soil is preferred for its cultivation. Broad beans do not grow very well in strongly acid soil, however, it prefers neutral to slightly alkaline soils. It can be grown well in soil pH of 6 to 7.5. It is one of the easiest plants to grow provided the soil is free from waterlogging.
Very little or insignificant research work has been done in broad bean and as such only local and heterogeneous varieties are available for cultivation. IARI, New Delhi has released an improved variety of broad beans.
Pusa Sumeet: The plant is 0.75 m tall having 8-10 branches. The plant bears around 100 pods/plant with an average pod length of 6.0 cm and pod thickness of 1.3. cm. The pods of this variety are attractive, medium-long, dark green, and borne in clusters. The average pod weight is 1.75 g. The fresh seeds are attractive green and tasty. This is a dual-purpose broad bean variety. Both tender pods and dried seeds are edible. First picking starts after 65-70 days of sowing. Its average yield potential is 18 tonnes/ha. The variety is suitable for packaging and transport.
Pusa Udit: The pods of this variety are extra-long, flattish, and light green. The fresh seeds are attractive green, good in taste. This is a dual-purpose broad bean variety. Both tender pods and dried seeds are edible. Its average yield potential is 30 tonnes/ha, which is 80% higher than the earlier released variety Pusa Sumeet. The variety is suitable for packaging and transport.
About 80-100 kg seed is required for sowing 1 ha area.
The seeds are sown in rows 30-45 cm apart and the distance from the plant to plant is 15-20 cm at a depth of 3-4 cm. Seeds should be sown when there is sufficient moisture in the soil. October-November is the best time for sowing seeds.
Manure and fertilizers
For good yield, 10-15 tonnes of farmyard manure per hectare should be mixed in the soil before sowing. Being leguminous crops, broad beans produce their own nitrogen in little nodules along with the roots. However, this does not happen until the plants begin to grow strongly. So a little extra nitrogen (25 kg/ ha) at the beginning will get them off to a good start. A mixture of 100 kg single super phosphate and 60-75 kg of muriate of potash should also be applied as a basal dose. Urea @ 50-75 kg/ha is required for top dressing one month after sowing.
First irrigation may be given 30-45 days after sowing and if there is no winter rain, 2 or 3 light irrigations should be given between pod initiations to the last harvest of the pods.
For controlling initial pre-emergence weeds, stomp (pendimethaline) @ 3 liter/ha in 600 liters of water should be sprayed on soil immediately after sowing. One hand weeding is required 30-35 days after sowing the crop and another weeding can be done after irrigation to facilitate aeration for good nodulation and root growth.
Diseases and pests
The problem of insect pests and diseases is not serious in this crop. However, following insect pests and diseases affect the crop.
Leaf blight: It is a fungal disease and affects the crop at a later stage when the temperature starts increasing in February.
Aphids: These are small insects, which suck the juice from leaves.
Harvesting and post-harvest management
Green tender pods should be harvested periodically when they are fully mature (seeds are about the size of a pea) and soft for vegetable purposes, while fully ripen pods are harvested for pulse purposes. For harvesting, the pods should be given a sharp twist in a downward direction away from the plant.
The yield of broad bean varies from cultivar to cultivar, but on average 10-15 tonnes/ha yield of green pods can be obtained.
For short-term storage (one week), the pods are stored in the refrigerator. Pods or seeds can also be stored as frozen vegetables like peas. Dry seeds can be stored in an air-tight container and can be sown in a successive years or rehydrated for use in cooking.