In autumn 2003 I recieved 10 seeds of ‘Estnisk Fava’ from a seedsaver in Sweden.
By the harvest 2004 I realised that it would be impossible for me to maintain the genetic balance in the highly variable landrace of favabean, since I started out with only 10 seeds, and no knowledge of this specific landrace. Also I didn’t know if the seeds had been selected for color (variation) before i had them. I could not honestly tell others, that what I am growing is true ‘Estnisk Fava’. This fact on the other side presented a freedom to select according to my own will, just remembering to call it something else.
I set the goal to create a breed with purple seeds.
In 2004 I also had a dwarf fava ‘The Sutton’ in my garden. Later it appear to have crossed in to my young breeding project.
In 2005 I sow the 9 purple seeds harvested the year before. The rest of the seeds (not purples) we cooked. From these 9 seeds 5 plants had purple seeds in variable amounts and sizes, and 4 plants had green seeds with black eyes, extremely identical in colour and size.
Because of limited space, I didn’t sow all seeds, but some seeds from alle plants, and then more from plant 2 and 6, since they made the best harvest by weight. From plant 6 I sowes alle the seeds, since they had a good size
2006 I sowed seeds out from all plants with purple seeds, but planted extra seeds from the better plants. This year the rate of green seeds decreased from aprox. 50% to aprox. 25% this year. It’s sliding the right way, and I conclude that the gene for purple seeds is dominant to green color. Now I must act carefully to insure it will be an attractive new varity. Purple seeds alone is not enough to me.
A few dwarfed plants showed up in the motherplant 6 line.
A few dwarf plants showed up in the motherplant 6 lineage two years after the cross took place, indicating the dwarfness to be recessive to normal height. I realise, that the cross has taken place, and that I’m not making a selection of ‘Estnisk Fava’, but the busy humblebees has brought genes for ‘The Sutton’ into the material. Interesting – but now I decide if I like or not the dwarfness. Decision making is the most important part of plantbreeding. What is best depends on the eyes – will I have the same eyes in 5 years as today?
I decide to bring the dwarf gene in to future generations, later seperating it or roughing it out. At this point I want to nurse the genetic variation for future recombination.
2006 is also the year I realise that ‘Estnisk Fava’ is a swedification of ‘Estisk Fava’ collected in Estonia by Lila Towl, chaiman of Frøsamlerne, the danish seed savers.
In 2007 I sow out, so 4 of 5 plants from 2004 is still represented in the material. No green seeds are allowed. More seeds are sown from attractive motherplants. You could say I deliberately slow down the selection process. It’s a technique to end up with a more favorable strain in the end of the process, by balancing selection and variation.
This year I’ve registred several treats of the 40 plants I will be selecting the next generation from.
My registration of 40 fava plants for breeding
Coding under the following pictures refer to this list. First parentplants name, ex. 6A, followed by plant number, ex. 1. So 6A1 is plant 1 with the motherplant 6a, witch again had the motherplant 6, seed in the picture from 2005.
After thinking, I’ve decided it’s time to grow a seperate dwarf line. They could be usefull potgrown in small gardens and on patios. I can possibly isolate them in the greenhouse or with netting. Growing them in pots would also avoid pods getting in contact with the ground, with risk of rotting.
Not all the dwarfs are deep purple, and one had only a small harvest, but the latter is very dwarf (20cm), but again I want more variation before a strong selection.
Among the tall plants I’ve selected for a good harvest, large seeds and purple seeds. I’ve decided to let a single greenseeded plant continue into next generation because it resprouts so well with pods. It is a treat wich could lead to a variety with a very long harvest period. A treat wanted by private gardeners favoring eating fresh favaseeds on a daily basis during summer. Out of genetic and aesthetic curiosness I will introduce a plant of crimson flowered ‘Crimson’, to learn if I can have red flowers and pruple seeds in my material. It might take some years to se a result of this, but I’m only happy waiting.
In the next years I still expect to have some plants with green seeds in every generation. It’s the price I pay to have better resprouting and introducing red flowers. With the latter treat I must be alert, and notice if the trait for purple seeds work different than the trait for greens seeds. Purple seeds and red flowers are different ways of expressing anthocyanins in the plant tissues.
Now is the time to thank the busy bumblebees. Without them it would be troublesome to cross favabeans. Thank you smalle friends, see you when spring comes again.