Growing Fava beans in Northeast Arkansas - UPDATE!!

greentongueFebruary 23, 2008

I HAVE AN UPDATE ON FAVA BEANS .. variety Aquadulce. Let me start by picking up the thread again (with pest recipes omitted!) with a pasting of this message:

* Posted by macmex 6b (My Page) on

Wed, Feb 13, 08 at 17:28

I have grown Favas in zone 6 (New Jersey)and a lot more in Mexico, at high altitude, where we lived for some years. Generally I try to plant them about the time I would plant peas. I have heard that one can plant them in the fall, for a spring crop. But I believe that is assuming that you don't have erratic spikes in temperature before early spring. If the favas get very tall, and you have a real cold snap, like below 31 F., they can be killed.

If you plant the seed outside, and they sprout because the soil temps have warmed enough, then they are more likely to handle cold snaps. My guess is that your outdoor planted seed will show up when the temps are right. That's my take on things.


Tahlequah, OK

George, you were right! The seeds went into the ground on January 9, with innoculant. They have laid under 17 degree frosts, 2 ice storms, snow for a few days, and this morning they are coming up... 75% of them so far!! Inside the house germination was 95% on this lot of seeds, but it was progressive over nearly 2 weeks. They are untreated 2007 seeds from Baker Creek Seeds in Missouri.

As for the transplanted ones (grown inside until Feb 3, then set out just like tomatoes)... All their original tops did kill down in the harder freezes. However, the plants were strong enough that about 60% of them have new shoots at the base and appear healthy enough to grow on out. Daffodils (the earliest varieties like Narcissus pseudonarcissus) are about a week from first bloom on sunny slopes of road frontage. Spinach is up well; lettuce just coming up, which means soil temp is at least 40 degrees, I think.

It feels far too cold for English peas to my touch, so I think this proves that Favas act like their wild vetch ancestors, from which they were domesticated over 6000 years ago. This is also a good chance for a crop, as they will have about 90 days to mature before we hit the heat of June.

I am planting seeds tomorrow of a few more Aquadulce in same area, and in an isolated different area I am planting the Italian imported seeds of Grano White from Gourmet Seeds International. They are also a large seeded type, described as frost hardy to 15 degrees, and listed by vendor as the earliest to mature (Vendor also carries Aquadulce) They are -- by Italian export regulations? -- Thiram treated seeds (innoculant may not take?) Grano White will be going into an area where they are tied to trellis on a south wall, and where I will want them out by June 1 to plant yardlongs from Seeds of India.

All of these soil areas are heavy clay / rock mix with some organic improvement.

greentongue in still chilly NE Arkansas

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Way to go! That's a very encouraging report. Sounds like you have very similar soil to what we have here. Though you might have a slightly earlier spring. No sign of Narcissus here. I planted parsnips back in the beginning of January, but they are not up yet.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 7:09AM
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Another update from the Ozarks. A couple of warm and sunny days with mild nights (above freezing), and the Fava beans just coming up are unfurling their leaves and beginning to grow.

And more are still coming up. Right now, only 2 of my transplanted beans look as good as those who came up on their own when the soil got warm enough.

I'm watching daily for those I planted on February 24...VERY IMPORTANT that I find them before the cottontails do!

Jan aka greentongue... Arkansas Ozarks

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 10:13PM
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George - I have never seen a fava bean so had to look them up to see what they looked like. You seem to grow some unusual things. I would be interested to hear what else you grow in your garden now that I have read about the corn and fava beans. Have you ever grown the asparagus or yard long beans? Carol

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 10:02PM
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Yes, Carol. The Asparagus bean is basically a long, tender podded cowpea. I grow an heirloom variety called Georgia Long. I'll start another thread to deal with it.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:53AM
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Update on the Northeast Arkansas Fava project. Plants from direct seeding on January 9 are now 4 inches tall, robust, and making small side shoots from the base of the plants. We are right at frost break here, with most nights in low 40's and most days in high 60's.

Sowing of February 24 is just coming up. Noteworthy: doesn't seem to be any such thing as too much water for them in this season. Anybody who watches the news knows about the heavy rain and widespread flooding last week. I live on a hilltop 10 miles from the White River, and excess wetness drains away in about 24 hours. I got about 6 inches of rain in 36 hours, with most of it coming as pelting rain for hours at a time, and a lot of my recent plantings were turned into mud slurries held in place only by the rocks I placed as variety markers across the rows.

Some of these favas are planted where they are watered by the drip line runoff from a sloping roof. Usually this is just an advantage, as it magnifies the small showers of later in season and makes them into enough moisture that it is of value. However, with this unexpected heavy rain, the seeds were in equivalent of standing water for about 2 1/2 days. Immediately after, they began to come up. Another variety in another planting area was an additional 2 days emerging.

A late planting (to test planting when Pisum species peas are planted, as most printed information suggests) was made on March 15.

Summary to date: seeds have required nearly a month to come up. Transplanting is nearly a waste of time, as survival rate in the long run was only about 10%. Very wet soil is no problem to the germinating seeds.... at this time of year, my soil is primarily mud, and my planting method in many cases has been to make a hole with a case knife, press in seed and close the hole so rodents don't see the seeds and dig for more.

Here in upper zone 7, the earlier the seeds are in the ground, the better. No question that plants 4 inches tall and base branching are in a better position than seeds which have not yet emerged.

Anyone else trying Favas? What varieties? My planting of 3 different dates is Aquadulce from Baker Creek seeds; My planting to be watered by roof run-off is Grano White from Gourmet Seeds International. Both are large seeded types, and considered early maturing. Aquadulce stated as 75 days to first harvest; Grano White just described as extra early.

greentongue aka Jan

Arkansas Ozarks... upper zone 7

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 10:13PM
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Three weeks since my last posting... MUCH MORE TO REPORT. Anybody who watches national news knows this has been a spring to test the toughness of our plants and the patience of all serious gardeners.

NOTE: all my legumes are innoculated before sowing.

I have Fava bean Aquadulce of 3 ages in one row now. All were from same seed lot. Their soil and location: partially improved clay loam, but low enough on hill that feet stay wet 1-2 days longer than they would if 100 yards farther up the hill. Full sun and wind and rain... totally exposed to all elements.

Direct seeding of January 9 is now 10 inches tall and making flower buds. Those hatched inside in large cups and transplanted: only 2 survivors. They are 6 inches tall and not yet making flower buds.

Direct sowing of February 24 is 6 inches tall and shows same development as the two transplanted plants.

Direct seeding of March 15 (last planting date for Pisum here)came up in 2 1/2 weeks (instead of a month)and they are 4 inches tall with 2 sets of leaves.

NOW ... A POSSIBLE PROBLEM, but I can't identify the condition from what books I have on plant diseases. The older plants (January and February sowings)are lighter green... and some are showing just the beginning of drying up edges on their upper leaves. Those planted March 15 are still bright green.

Those black aphids that I've been led to expect ... they're on the way. I saw 2 winged adults, and 3 plants had ants looking for a place to farm their "cows".

The planting of Feb 24 that is watered by dripline of a small shed (thus effect of standing in water for 2 1/2 days when the rains produced the Midwest floods of mid-March.) Variety is the Grano White, an early large variety from Italy. This is a sunny south-of-building, full sun exposure with sun reflected off light colored siding, protected from prevailing northwest winds and vegetation to south breaks any wind from that direction.

They came up just as the heavy rains ended, a couple of days before the same date planting in open site farther down the hill. They are now 8 - 10 inches tall, still bright green and look good. However, there are specks of black / thin black edges on their upper leaf margins.

Their soil is heavy clay with almost no improvement, but site drains fast because it is near top of hill and the slope is 1 yard drop per 50 feet. No signs of aphids here yet.

Other legumes that are up and how they are doing. Lentils (my first attempt). They were 2 days in ground when the heavy rains came... on a hill top in soil developed with considerably organic applications in late 1980's. The row washed, but they came up a near perfect stand... 3 inches tall and still look healthy.

Garbanzo beans... planted a couple days before the heavy rains as single seed sticks in clay with some organic development. About 1/3 came up... and it took them 3 weeks! I presume most to have been washed in so deep they could not find the sun in time. Those up are 3" tall and growing rapidly. Variety is Black Kabouli from Baker Creek>Afghanistan originally.

Snap peas -- 3 varieties. Those planted February 24 came up well and are now 8 inches (Amish Snap) and 12 inches tall (Golden Pea from India). A planting of Super Sugar Snap on March 15 was badly eroded by the heavy rains and many washed in too deep. Spotty stand, but those who came up are now 6 inches tall and growing fine.

Planted before the announcement of the last few days unexpected cold... and still not up: 2 seeds Insuk's Wang Kong in chat with some organics; Scarlet Runner was sucessful and survived winter in that location a decade ago. Adzuki beans (per time advice for my region in S. Ashworth's SEED TO SEED), Agate Soybeans. Planting of this time period of another variety soybean in 2007 would have come up... except that the Easter Freeze destroyed them less than 1/2 inch from emerging! This planting was made within by my County Extension Agent's suggested earliest time window for this area. Agate chosen because it originated in New Mexico (hotter than I am and generally dryer as well), is early to mature, and it went into ground newly broken this year and nearly raw clay / rock, where no water will be available. Plenty of soil moisture right now, and seeds are sited to use "basin" method of SW Pueblo Indians.

greentongue aka Jan
Foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northeast Arkansas

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 2:55PM
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I re-read MacMex's original posting: We did have borderline frost in last 2 days. "officially" it was 34 degrees in the town 10 miles south of me. My hydranges (30 - 40 inches tall) are still fine; my emerging potatoes 3 inches tall were frost damaged. The oldest favas with slight edge damage to upper leaves... Might be frost damage??

A further note on the adzuki... they went into organically developed soil on a hill top... where water is possible later if necessary (day length sensitive makes me think I may wait MONTHS for my crop?!). When I tried to calculate the theoretical months to harvest against the day length sensitivity, I seriously wondered about the advice in SEED TO SEED, but this variety has been grown by an SSE member within 50 miles of me, so I decided to plant anyway.. but make sure I could water in July!! Sounded more plausible than trying to germinate the seeds in the 100-degree soil of July! Thanks for the seeds, Zeedman!

Jan - Greentongue in Arkansas Ozarks

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 3:11PM
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I have a question! Just moved to southwest Missouri from the San Francisco area and am getting ready to plant my first Missouri fall garden. I assumed that I could get a crop of fava beans before winter if I planted now (Mid August) but from the reading I've done here, people seem to be saying plant in early spring only. Since they take about three months to mature, couldn't I plant now for a crop mid-November; before it gets too cold? Help!!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 3:56PM
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