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Pulse Crops for Forage Production 2020

Updated: Jun 27

Authors: Buthaina Al-Maqtari, Kaitlin McLachlan

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

Location: Fairview Research Farm

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2020 Annual Report

Pulse crops such as peas and faba beans can be used as forage for livestock production. Pulse crops when harvested for forage are generally known to have high metabolizable energy, protein and digestibility. The crop growth stage at cutting, and how it is baled or ensiled to ensure the leaf and pod material is captured are very important to achieving these feed quality attributes. There is some interest in growing faba beans for forage. Livestock producers looking to include pulses in their forage production systems now have a few new and notable options for forage-type peas and other pulse crops. The new pulse crop options include strong yielders and improved disease resistance. The pulse crop trial for forage production tested several new forage peas and a fababean variety. It is important to note that forage pea varieties are similar to traditional field peas in many respects, including agronomic needs and considerations. However, many questions remain about faba bean adaption in the Peace Country, its forage yield and animal feeding values.

Some of the desirable traits in forage/silage pea varieties we pay particular attention to include:

· High dry matter yield, high crude protein, low detergent fibres, and high relative feed value

· Small seed size to reduce planting costs

· High grain yield to improve efficiency of seed production

· Low lodging score to improve the efficiency of grain and forage harvest

· Favorable ensiling qualities


The trial was conducted at Fairview Research Farm (NW-5-82-3W6M) on RR 35, MD of Fairview. Previous crop at the site was alfalfa for hay production for over ten years before fall of 2018. In the fall of 2018, the site was sprayed out with Roundup at 1.0 L/acre and deep plowed. The site was later disced and harrowed the following spring, and left unseeded (fallowed) the same year. In 2020, the site was tilled with a cultivator and harrowed before seeding.

Soil analysis carried out in the fall of 2018 from 0-6” soil depth showed an organic content of 8.2%, a pH of 6.2 and an electrical conductivity of 0.21 ds/m. The soil had 10 lbs N/acre, 14 lbs P/acre and 485 lbs K/acre as well as 9 lb S/acre.

A randomized complete block design with 4

replications was used. The following 10 peas

(8 forage peas and 2 maple leaf peas) and a faba

bean variety were tested:

1. 40-10 forage pea

2. Meadow peas

3. Horizon forage pea

4. CDC Leory forage pea

5. DL Delicious forage pea (New)

6. CDC Jasper forage pea (New)

7. DL Goldeye forage pea (New)

8. DL Lacross forage pea (New)

9. AAC Liscard maple pea

10. Blazer maple pea

11. DL Tesoro faba bean (New)

à Seeding date was on May 29, 2020 with a Fabro plot drill equipped with disc-type openers on 9” row spacing.

à Six rows that were 8 m long were sown per plot.

à Seeding depth was 0.75”. Fertility was 60 lbs/acre of 11-52-0 to all legumes.

à Faba bean was seeded 4 plants/ft2. Peas were seeded at 8 plants/ft2.

à The legumes were inoculated at seeding with cell-Tech granular inoculant.

à Both peas and faba bean were treated with Cruiser Maxx Vibrance before seeding.

à Pre-emergent herbicide application was with StartUP a few days after seeding. In-crop weed control measure was done with Basagran Forte herbicide.

Harvesting for forage dry matter (DM) yield and feed quality analysis was done on August 31.

Results and Implications

The forage dry matter yield was significantly higher for DL Delicious forage peas (10266 lbs/acre) in comparison to other pulses tested in this trial (Table 1). DL Delicious forage peas out-yielded other peas and faba beans by about 6000 lbs/acre.

Except for 40-10 forage peas, DL Tesoro Faba bean had a significantly higher forage crude protein (CP) than all other pulses tested,. The forage CP generally varied from 12.3-18.0% CP. All pulses tested have been able to meet the protein requirements of mature beef cattle including dry gestating (7-9% CP) and lactating beef cows (11% CP).

The forage total digestible nutrients (TDN), a measure of energy, did not differ significantly between crops. The forage TDN was higher in the forage of DL Tesorvo Faba Bean, Blazer peas, CDC Jasper forage peas, and DL Goldeye forage peas with > 60% TDN. DL Lacross just barely fell short of meeting the 55% TDN requirement of a beef cow in mid-pregnancy. Only four crop varieties (Blazer, Goldeye, Jasper, and Tesoro) had adequate TDN for lactating beef cows (65%). Both forage Ca and P were similar for all crop varieties. All crops had sufficient Ca for all categories of mature beef cattle, but none had enough P for a mature beef cow. Overall, DL Delicious forage peas remained greener longer into the fall than others, followed by 40-10 forage peas and then DL Goldeye.


DL Delicious was the highest yielding variety of those tested. DL Delicious had a yield advantage of 42% over 40-10 forage peas, which was used as control. Faba bean had the highest protein content but all crops went beyond the 11% protein that is recommended for mature beef cattle. In general, the energy requirements of a beef cow in mid-pregnancy have been met but feeding some of the crops to cows in late-pregnancy or those with calves would require some form of energy supplementation. None of the crops tested were able to completely meet the mineral requirements of a mature beef cow, therefore supplemental minerals would be needed.


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