Regeneration guidelines for faba bean

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The information on this page was extracted from:
Street K., Ismail A. and Rukhkyan N. 2008. Regeneration guidelines: faba bean. In: Dulloo M.E., Thormann I., Jorge M.A. and Hanson J., editors. Crop specific regeneration guidelines [CD-ROM]. CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resource Programme, Rome, Italy. 9 pp.

Before reading the regeneration details for this crop, read the general introduction that gives general guidelines to follow by clicking here.


Faba bean (Vicia faba L.) belongs to the Fabaceae family and has many common names. It is native to northern Africa and south-west Asia, where it is extensively cultivated. The species spread from the Mediterranean region to Europe and then through Eurasia and to parts of the New World. Extensive cultivation occurs in all these regions, particularly in China. Although classified in the same genus as the vetches (Vicia), some botanists argue that the species should be treated as a separate monotypic genus; Faba sativa Moench or Faba bona Medik. No wild progenitor of faba bean has been identified and the species does not produce fertile hybrids with any other Vicia species.
Faba bean is a diploid species, 2n=12 (six homologous pairs) and partly out-crossing; cross-pollination is reported to range from 8% to 84%, with an average of 35% (Bond and Poulsen 1983). The plant is rigid and erect, growing to 0.5 to 1.7 m tall. The leaves are 10–25 cm long, pinnate with two to seven leaflets and have a distinct grey-green colour. Faba bean differs from most other vetches in that the leaves do not have tendrils for climbing. The pods are green, broad and leathery. When mature they are blackish-brown with a dense, downy surface. Three distinct types, based on seed size, are commonly recognized: the large-seeded variety major; the intermediate variety equina and the small-seeded variety minor.
Given the high degree of allogamy (cross-fertilization) within Vicia faba germplasm, it is important to optimize the regeneration procedure. Freshly harvested seed must be processed rapidly and efficiently to maintain seed quality so that the periods between regeneration are as long as possible. This guideline applies to genebank accessions of faba bean, including commercial varieties, breeding material, pure lines and landrace populations.

A faba bean plant. (photo: ICARDA)

Choice of environment and planting season

Planting season

Preparation for regeneration

Use screenhouses to prevent insect-facilitated cross-pollination

When to regenerate

Preparing seed for planting

Field selection and soil preparation

Method of regeneration

Planting layout, density and distance

Sowing method

Plot labelling

Crop management

Weed management



Common pests and diseases

Contact plant health experts to identify the symptoms of the likely pests and diseases and the appropriate control measures. Common pests and diseases include:





Pest and disease control

Pollination and pollinator behaviour

Examples of different flower morphologies of faba bean. (photos: J.L.Ubera)


Harvest when pods become dark and dry. Dryness can be judged by the rattling sound pods make when shaken. Harvest by hand.

1. Hold the stem at the base and pul the plant from the soil.

2. Tie the uprooted plants from a row into small bundles and label them with accession number and field plot number.

3. Thresh the pods from individual plants on a tarpaulin by gently beating with sticks and collect the seeds into paper packets.

4. Take care to avoid spill over and seed mixing during threshing.

Desiccation of the plants can improve harvestability. A desiccant can be applied some days before and up to harvest.

Post-harvest management

1. Manually clean large-seeded accessions of any contaminating debris in a way that causes least damage to the sample.

2. For small-seeded accessions whose seeds wil pass through the sieves of a seed-cleaning machine, clean mechanical y, fol owed by a second hand cleaning to eliminate any further debris that passed through the mechanical process.

3. If using a machine, clean it meticulously after each accession.

4. If signs of insect attack are detected, it may be wise to fumigate the harvested seeds with an appropriate insecticide. However, this is not generally recommended, especially for long-term storage.

5. Determine total weight of cleaned seeds.

6. Determine 100-seed weight.

7. Dry accessions by placing seed in a low humidity, standard room temperature environment that is kept constant for up to 3 weeks. If using a control ed seed drying room, drying at 15°C and 15–20% RH is recommended. If a drying room is not available, dry seeds to a moisture content of less than 3–7% with silica gel or other appropriate desiccant.

8. Determine moisture content—it should be 3–7% for storage.

9. Send a subsample of each accession for viability testing.

10. Process the material for storage.

Monitoring accession identity

Maintaining the correct identity of accessions

When processing seed for planting, during planting, in the field, during harvest and post-
harvest, make sure that the seeds of a given accession remain with the correct identity
number. Always label packets of seeds, plots and harvested material with the appropriate
ID number in such a way that there is no chance of mixing up or losing the identity of the

Maintaining population integrity

When conserving accessions of genetically diverse populations, it is important to maintain
adequate seed numbers to maximize the diversity of the sample, i.e. a minimum of 4000
seeds. When regenerating such accessions, it is equally important to plant an adequate
number of seeds to capture the original variation in the population and ensure that genetic
drift does not occur within the population (see introductory chapter).
For active collections where seed reserves could be run down rapidly due to requests it is
advisable to plant enough seed to produce a large amount of seed (1–2 kg) to minimize the
number of regeneration events and hence to avoid genetic drift.

Comparisons with previous passport or morphological data

Compare each accession with the following characterization data previously recorded for
the accession:

If the identity of the accession is in doubt, check it against its herbarium voucher specimen.
Discard the accession if its identity is not the same as the original accession.

Documentation during regeneration

Collect the following information during regeneration and record it in the genebank
information system:

References and further reading

Bioversity International, ICARDA. 2009. Key access and utilization descriptors for faba bean genetic resources. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy; International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Syria. Available here.

Bond DA, Poulsen MH. 1983. Pollination. In: Hebblethwaite PD, editor. The Faba Bean (Vicia faba L.). Butterworth, London, UK. pp. 157–179.

Muratova VS. 1931. Common beans (Vicia faba L.). Bulletin of Applied Botany of Genetics and Plant Breeding. 50th supplement. pp. 248–285.


These guidelines have been peer reviewed by María José Suso, Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (CSIC), Spain, Margarita Vishnyakova, N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR), Russia, and Mike Ambrose, John Innes Centre (JIC), UK.

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.