Alternative Pulses


Lentils should be seeded into moisture, about ¾ inch deep. They should be seeded at a rate of 55-60 lb/acre, resulting in about 12-14 plants/ft2. It is important to use a seed treatment as well. Typically they are a shorter plant but they can range anywhere from 8-30 inches in height. A bit of starter nitrogen may be useful but it is not required. When lentils are inoculated with the proper Rhizobium strain, there is potential for the plant to fix up to 80% of its nitrogen requirements. Phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur are important for lentils too. Depending what is already available in the soil, 20-25 lbs of phosphate may be applied and about 10 lbs of potassium and sulfur. Lentils are very sensitive to frost; however, because of hypogeal germination where the cotyledons remain below the ground, the plant will re-grow from a scale node that is below the soil surface.

Fungicides are very important since diseases can severely impact the yield and quality of lentils. Control of Ascochyta blight, Botrytis must be considered. Growers should be prepared to spray fungicides on their lentils at least twice through the growing season. In 2015, West Central Sask found an average yield increase of 4.1 bu/ac when fungicides were applied. Fungicide options include: Priaxor, Delaro, Lance, or Acapela. A second fungicide pass will not cover the bottom of the canopy as well as the first pass, especially with narrower row spacing. With lentils, the minimum row spacing should be 12 inches. This will provide better air flow, resulting in less disease because of a drier canopy. Aphanomyces (root rot) is best distinguished by the development of caramel coloured roots. Aphanomyces eutiches belongs to a group of fungal-like pathogens commonly known as “water mould.” They favour wet, waterlogged soils and the optimum temperature for development is 22-27°C.  Without a host present, they can survive up to 20 years in the soil as oospores. Zoospores are capable of moving in the soil moisture and then infect the roots. There is no effective chemical control today for Aphanomyces. The best control method is crop rotation and crop selection. Intego Solo seed treatment is an additional option that will provide 50-60% control. Sclerotinia results when spores in the air land on the stem and then cause infection. The apothecia will produce spores under ideal moisture and temperature conditions. The moisture must be about 80% relative humidity, heavy rain, or heavy dews, and the temperature must range from 11-15°C for ten days.

Insects have the ability to greatly reduce the yield in lentils. Insecticide options include: Matador, Silencer, or Decis. Grasshoppers pose the greatest threat from the bud stage to early pod development. They bite at the petiole and the pods will fall off. The threshold for grasshoppers is 2/m2.

Typically Lentil crops require stress to help with the ripening process. Regions which have excessive rain through late summer will see lentils plant to continue to grow and flower, which typically reduces seed set. Desiccation should be considered to speed up the harvest process and retain seed quality.

Faba Beans

Faba beans can be used as an alternative to peas in the heavier, moisture holding fields. Faba beans are more competitive to weeds than peas. There are also tolerant to flooding, however they are sensitive to drought. About 8-10 inches of rain is required to reach maximum yield. They will do best following cereals and it takes about 2 years for the nitrogen to be released back into the soil. A rotation to consider would be cereal-faba bean-cereal-canola.

Tannin varieties have a coloured flower and have 4-8% tannin in the seed coat. They are food varieties and produce a larger seed. The seed has a brown coat with black dots. An example variety is FB9-4 (Malik). Low or zero tannin varieties have white flowers. They are feed varieties and produce a smaller seed. They are more susceptible to disease to it is important to use a seed treatment. Some example varieties are Snowbird, Snowdrop, and Tobasco. The maturity for both types is similar, 104-120 days. It is important not to seed different varieties near each other because varieties will outcross.

Faba beans should be seeded into moisture, about 2-3 inches deep and no later than May 15th. Yields have shown to be higher when seeded earlier, when the soil is 3°C. They are also able to re-grow after a frost. Seeding rates will vary depending on the size of the seed. Snowdrops average around 2.6 bu/ac and FB9-4 averages around 4 bu/ac. There should be about 4-5 plants/ft2. It is important to use a minimum size of 1 ½ inch hoses on the drill to avoid plugging. Faba beans are able to fix about 90% of their nitrogen requirements. However, if there is too much residual nitrogen in the soil then the yield will be reduced because of excessive vegetation growth and reduced seed production. Phosphorus and potassium are also important for faba beans.

The yield and quality of faba beans can be drastically reduced from the pressure of weeds, diseases, and insects. Perennial weeds such as Canada thistle are very competitive with faba beans. Pre-seed burn off options include: Glyphosate, Edge, Bonanza, or Express SG. In-crop herbicide options include Odyssey or Basagran Forte. Fungicides are important, especially for food varieties. The most common disease is chocolate spot. It will defoliate the plant and cause seed spot. Faba beans can become diseased with Ascochyta or Alternaria, but this hasn’t been found in Saskatchewan yet. Fungicide options include: Lance WDG, or Priaxor but only for suppression of chocolate spot. Insects to be concerned about in faba beans include: cutworms, grasshoppers, and lygus bugs. Faba beans are able to recover from cutworm damage because they will grow another shoot. Lygus bugs will be in canola first and then move to faba beans. They will reduce the seed quality and result in down grading. Insecticide options include Silencer or Matador.

Marketing options for Faba Beans are limited. A high percentage of Faba Beans are sold into the feed market, which limits marketing options.


Soybeans should be seeded into moisture, about ¾ – 1 ½ inch deep. The soil temperature should be 8-10°C and they should be seeded by mid May, about the 20th. Delaying seeding can result in lower plant height, lower pod counts, and lower yields. The first 48 hours of seeding soybeans is very important, they will take up about 60% of their bodyweight in moisture. Soybeans can handle water stress and some frost. They may take up to 2 weeks to emerge. Soybeans are best following cereals because of disease and herbicide rotation. Soybeans can be followed after canola but watch for re-cropping restrictions of certain herbicides. It is important to inoculate twice because there is no soybean Rhizobium in the soil. Inoculating twice will result in efficient nodulation and nitrogen fixation. However, soybeans won’t nodulate when there is too much residual nitrogen in the soil. Soybeans like to take up old phosphorus. Therefore, it would be useful to side band the year before or apply phosphorus in the fall rather than in the spring. Never apply potassium with the seed.

There are several options to control weeds and insects when the thresholds become too high.  The first to third trifoliate is the critical weed free period for soybeans. They are not very competitive against weeds until they have formed a canopy. To manage weeds, it is important to use a tank mix partner with glyphosate for pre-seed burn off. In-crop herbicide applications include: glyphosate twice at 0.67 L/ac, glyphosate once at 1.35 L/ac, Viper, or Basagran. Most growers do not apply fungicides on soybeans. Diseases in soybeans include Bacterial Blight and Sclerotinia. Not much can be done for bacterial blight and it is not yield impacting. Sclerotinia (white mold) is more likely to infect soybeans in wet years. At first the flower petals will become infected; the disease will continue to grow and infect the stem and pods, eventually resulting necrosis at the top of the plant. It is important to choose early maturing varieties and use wide row spacing to reduce disease severity. Insects to cause damage in soybeans include: grasshoppers, cutworms and aphids. Grasshoppers feed on the leaves and pods. Yield loss is not substantial from early season defoliation; however, defoliation at flowering and pod filling will cause a greater loss in yield. Cutworms can considerably reduce the plant stand. Insecticide options include Silencer or Matador.

To make harvest easier, an increase in seeding rate may bump up the pod height. August rains greatly affect the yield as the top pods will fill out more. Desiccation can be done but it is not necessary for soybeans. If desiccated too early, then green may be locked into the seed. At about 30% seed moisture, the leaves will have dropped. Reglone or Heat are desiccant options.


Written By: Kerry Gerein