The broad bean (Vicia faba) — also known as faba bean — is a legume, similar to runner beans and peas. It differs from most other vegetables in Western Australia as it crops in spring and for less than 10 weeks of the year.
It tolerates lower temperatures than runner and French beans and the plant can withstand frost, although the flowers are frost-sensitive. The broad bean does not set pods well until August and September, as it needs the right day length and a temperature of about 20°C at flowering.
Broad beans are grown in large quantities in the agricultural areas to produce mature seeds for feeding to livestock. These crops are called faba beans.
In horticulture, broad beans are mainly grown for their large, but immature seeds.
As a cooked vegetable, they supply carbohydrate, energy, fibre, protein and vitamin A. The pods are also sometimes cooked when young and tender. When ploughed in, broad beans return organic matter to the soil.
Although well-drained soils are preferred, the crop will tolerate heavier soils and brief waterlogging better than most other vegetables, especially if this occurs well after emergence.
Neutral to alkaline soils are optimum. Soils which are too alkaline may show trace element deficiencies such as iron, manganese and zinc.