A common broad bean disease

A new grower and close friend came seeking my help as he claimed his broad beans were developing and harnessing some kind of disease.

I knew what it was straight away. Those yellowish, brown spots that cover the leaves of the broad bean or other legumes are so easy to diagnose. I was sure that the plants were suffering from the common rust like disease.

Technically known as;  Uromyces fabae.

The disease in question is a fungal disease that looks alot like rust that you would more commonly see on metal. The only difference here being is that it manifests itself on a plant.

The broad bean disease can become airborne and be blown onto your crops by the wind. This is the main way in which it is spread.

If you inspect closely with a magnifying glass you can see the tiny little fungal spores. This is a reassuring step one should take with their diagnosis just to be sure.

The disease isn't that serious. While it can't be treated or there no known remedies at this point. It isn't much of an issue as the disease tends to develop later on the year when the beans are nearing the end of their life cycle and have produced a steady supply of food regardless.

You can try picking off the infected leaves and throwing them away (Don't compost them). However, the infection can spread pretty rapidly and you may have no leaves left when you're done!

The best method to combat the disease is to just wait until later on in the year, when you feel your plants have given you enough food, just cut them down and dispose of them. You will want to be sure you've killed the disease so don't compost your infected plants. Instead burn or put them in your local recycling bin.

Tips

  • Crop rotation will definitely help combat it! By rotating crops each year you can significantly reduce the occurrence of this disease

  • The disease can lay dormant over winter and rejuvenate itself come summer. Crop rotation and properly disposing of effected plants will help cure this problem. Although it may not rid you of it entirely
  • This fungal disease thrives in humid climates. If you can, give your plants lots of airflow between, in and around them
  • Don't worry, the infection isn't harmful to humans! Your crops are still perfectly edible! Although you may want to discard of any "odd" looking beans. Common sense prevails!
  • NEVER compost infected plants! The disease can sometimes survive the composting procedure and infect your future crops! 
  • Uromyces fabae literally lives off of the plant, using it as a host and slowly sucking the life out of it. It will therefore, reduce yield. However it only generally occurs later on the year so it's not to much of a fuss!

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