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Content archived on 2024-04-15

Agronomic and physiological studies on novel forms of faba bean in relation to breeding objectives


The aim of the project is to test the hypothesis that a determinate growth habit does not impose a limitation on yield and that it may provide important benefits in terms of the cultivation, management and yield stability of spring-sown faba beans. This agronomic and physiological information is of benefit to the breeders and growers of Vicia faba L.
Agronomic and physiological studies have taken place on novel forms of faba beans in relation to breeding objectives in order to identify characteristics of value for the improvement of yield and yield stability.

It was found that determinacy in faba beans (being a type whose growth is truncated by the development of a terminal inflorescence, thus having a growth habit more reminiscent of a cereal) increases yield stability but reduces yield; semideterminate forms appear to optimize both of these characteristics. A physiological understanding of the basis of these 2 seemingly antagonistic characters seems essential if breeders are to successfully select for a simultaneaous increase in yield and yield stability. Consequently, an agronomic and physiological examination of semideterminate forms is a prerequisite for realizing the full potential of the faba bean crop.
The experimental emphasis has been on field trials. Four particular agronomic treatments have been studied in detail namely variation in sowing date, variation in inter-row spacings, variation in plant density and the influence of the level water supply at different stages in the growth of the plant.
The production of the final harvestable yield in all these cases has been investigated by growth analysis throughout the growth of the crop. Thus the relationship between biomass production and its distribution has been related to final seed yield. Biomass production has also been related to the use of environmental resources, particularly light and water. As an alternative methods of investigating the effect of these agronomic treatments on final yield, the reproductive biology of the plant has been examined. Changes, throughout the life-cycle of the plant, in the number of flowers per raceme, racemes per plant and following fertilization, the number of pods per raceme, have been studied.


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University of Nottingham
EU contribution
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Sutton Bonington
LE12 5RD Loughborough
United Kingdom

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