Determinate forms of field bean (Vicia faba L.), because of their altered growth habit, may differ in phenology from indeterminate cultivars and so their responses to environmental conditions may necessitate different optimum sowing dates. This was studied in autumn-sown field beans at the University of Nottingham at Sutton Bonington by standard growth analysis techniques, final yield components and monitoring of crop growth stages in an indeterminate cultivar, Bourdon, and two determinate populations, 858 and 796 (provided by Plant Breeding International, Cambridge), in three consecutive seasons beginning in 1985/86.
Bourdon yielded significantly more (2·4 t/ha, on average) than the determinate selections as a result of more pod-bearing nodes per stem and seeds per pod and a greater individual seed weight. There was, however, no correlation between seed yield and canopy size, either in total or during pod filling. Determinacy, contrary to expectation, did not increase harvest index. In fact, the reproductive stems of Bourdon had higher harvest indices than those of 858. The yield disadvantage of determinates was therefore exacerbated by the existence of reproductive stems, which, by prolonging the maturation phase, may also detract from a further potential benefit of the determinate habit, namely an increase in yield stability.
There seemed to be no cultivar differences in the temperature requirement for the initiation of developmental processes. An average accumulation of 1239 °C days was required from sowing to flowering. Differences between this and other work in the calculated base temperature for flowering were cautiously explained by the lack of data distinguishing day and night temperature in this experiment and by the use of autumn-sown rather than spring-sown cultivars. It is also suggested that photoperiod may be important in initiating flowering.
Both determinate and indeterminate forms gave the greatest seed yields from the earliest sowing dates.