Chocolate attack now less likely

Drawing of a Faba Bean plant

Faba Beans

Two new faba bean cultivars, one resistant to chocolate spot and the other to Ascochyta, are now on the market and in the seed increase stage, respectively.

The National Faba Bean Breeding Program, led by Ron Knight at the University of Adelaide Waite Campus, and funded by growers through the GRDC, developed the new varieties, named Icarus and Ascot.

Needs far less fungicide

Icarus is resistant to chocolate spot, and while not immune, should require far less fungicide to control the disease. Icarus is, however, susceptible to Ascochyta — more so than Fiord — and is late-flowering, and should therefore not be grown where Ascochyta is serious or where the season is short.

Icarus has attractive, smooth green seeds and in trials has out-yielded Fiord after early sowing and an extended season. Icarus is taller and should be grown at a lower plant density than Fiord, 15-20 plants per square metre against 25-30 for Fiord.

Icarus appears to have the same characteristics as Fiord as a component of feed mixes for animals. It will be commercially tested for canning this year.

NSW Agriculture Agronomist Harry Marcellos has been trialing Icarus at Tamworth, Narrabri and Croppa Creek, but had not yet harvested as Ground Cover went to press. "'Chocolate spot and rust are big problems up our way." Dr Marcellos said.

The cultivar's name pays tribute to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (1CARDA), based in Aleppo, Syria, which supplied material from which Icarus was derived. Australia is increasing contact with the Centre.

Ascot beats Ascochyta

The second new release, Ascot, resembles Fiord in most respects but has resistance to Ascochyta. It does not have greater resistance to chocolate spot than Fiord, but there are many areas where chocolate spot is not an annual problem.

SEEDCO (South Australian Seedgrowers Co-operative Ltd) has the licence to produce seed of the two cultivars, which are protected under the Plant Variety Rights Act. A SEEDCO spokesperson said farmers will have access to certified Icarus seed this year while Ascot is in the final stages of seed selection and multiplication.

"The aim now is to combine the two resistances into one variety," said Dr Knight. "Icarus and Ascot are being used as parents, but we are also using in the program other good resistant lines introduced from overseas."