All signs are that the market for beans is growing, driven by the rising interest in adopting a healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet, also by the growing uptake of plant-based and vegan diets. Faba beans provide a good source of protein, fibre, carbohydrates – and are rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium.

Michael Shuldham, Pulse Product Manager for LS Plant Breeding Ltd (LSPB) points out that, to match increased end market demand, growers need varieties that that give improved yield and agronomics – plus improved characters to give crop production of the right quality for end users.

“Up to now, end use of faba beans as a human and animal food crop has been limited by the presence of the anti-nutritional compounds  vicine and convicine, which have negative effects on feeding efficiency for pigs and poultry. For humans consuming beans with these compounds, a condition called favism can result, which can trigger symptoms such as headache, vomiting and nausea. (see Notes for Editors for detailed explanation).

“LSPB’s introduction of LVC varieties (low vicine/convicine) means that compounders can increase the level of beans in their rations – and food companies can increase the use of beans in their consumer products.”

The first LVC varieties that came out of LSPB’s investment in breeding research, such as Tiffany, offered end market benefits but with a yield gap – hence were marketed with specialist end user contracts to make their use more viable.

Now LSPB’s latest variety Futura all-but-closes this yield gap to just a few percentage points below the top bean variety on the PGRO Descriptive List and is close to the yield of the market-leading variety Lynx.

Futura’s agronomic characters are similar to other top varieties except for a lower downy mildew resistance. However, LSPB have LVC varieties already in the pipeline to resolve that.

Michael Shuldham adds: “In Canada, LVC is increasingly an end user requirement and we can foresee that this will happen in the UK, either driven by market demand or by legislation – a situation that is similar to the introduction of double low oilseed rape varieties in the UK.

“All-in-all we see the future of spring beans in the UK is LVC and with Futura, UK bean growers can be ahead of the game.”