Bean: Snap, Lima and Dry


Snap and dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris and P. coccineus) are relatively easy to grow in New England while lima beans (P. lunatus) are more difficult. Other specialty bean crops include Edamame soybeans (Glycine max) and fava or broad beans (Vicia faba). Beans should be planted in well-drained soil, and should not be repeatedly planted in the same field (use at least a 3-year rotation) to avoid soil-borne diseases.

Plant only when soil temperatures have reached 60°F (late May-early June). Optimum seed germination occurs at soil temperatures above 70°F. Irrigation may be necessary at time of bloom in order to ensure maximum pod set under dry soil conditions. Temperatures above 90°F or below 50°F cause poor pod set.

Types and Varieties

Snap beans can have green, purple or yellow (wax) pods, and grow in bush (P. vulgaris) or vine/pole forms (P. coccineus). Pods are oval, round, or flat (Italian types), depending on cultivar. Filet beans are ones that have slender stringless pods that stay small and thin. Good commercial yields for fresh market are 200 bushels or more per acre.

Lima beans (P. lunatus) are of minor importance in most areas in New England. Seed germination requires warm soil. A relatively long time to maturity reduces the length of the harvest season and restricts production in northern New England. A good yield of shelled lima beans is 3,000 lb/A.

Dry beans. In recent years, a significant acreage of pea beans and a small, but important, acreage of light red kidney varieties have been grown in northern New England. Vermont and Maine have a thriving tradition of growing heirloom varieties. For additional information about dry beans, see the Northeast Dry Bean Production Guide (University of Vermont Extension, March 2017) at

Snap, Lima, and Dry Bean Varieties
Snap Beans - green Lima Beans
Affirmed - A, BCMV, BBR, HB:1,2 Fordhook 242
BA0958 - BCMV Eastland - DM
Bronco - BCMV King of the Garden - pole
Concesa - BCMV, HB  
Fortex - pole Dry Beans
Jade II - BCMV, BR Jacob's Cattle
Lewis - BCMV, CT, HB, BR, BBR Maine Yellow Eye
Provider - BCMV, PM Pinto
Savanna - BCMV, A, CT Redkote Kidney - HB
Seychelles - pole Seafarer Pea Bean - A, HB, BCMV
Tema - BCMV White Marrow
Snap Beans - Italian flat-podded  
Capitano (yellow) Snap Beans - yellow/wax
Greencrop - BCMV Carson - BCMV, A
Roman II - BCMV Rocdor - BCMV, A
Romano Gold (yellow) Eureka - BCMV, BBR
  Monte Gusto - pole
Snap Bean - slender filet  
Maxibel Snap Beans - purple
Tavera - A, BCMV Amethyst
Velour (purple) Royal Burgundy
  Carminat - pole

Resistant to: A: Anthracnose; BBR: Bacterial Brown Rot: BR: Bean Rust; BCMV: Bean Common Mosaic Virus; CT: Curly Top Virus; DM: Downy Mildew; HB: Halo Blight; PM: Powdery Mildew. Other codes: Pole = pole beans (all others are bush).

Soil Fertility 

Apply lime according to soil test to maintain soil pH at 6.5-6.8.

Apply no more than 80-100 lb/A combined weight of nitrogen and potash through the planter. Because beans are sensitive to salt or ammonia injury, keep fertilizer 2-3 in. away from the seed.

A sidedressing of 30 lb nitrogen/A at prebloom may extend harvest period of snap beans and increase yields, especially on sandy soils. Machine harvested snap or dry beans are unlikely to need sidedressing. Less nitrogen fertilizer will be needed if legume sod was plowed down or if manure was applied (see Table 1 and Table 7).

Beans can suffer from zinc (Zn) deficiency or boron (B) toxicity.  If soil tests report less than 1.0 ppm Zn, then add 10 lbs per acre zinc sulfate to the starter fertilizer. If soils contain more than 0.5 ppm B, then avoid growing beans in this field.

Broadcast or Planter* 50 100 75 0-50 0 100 75 0-50 0
TOTAL RECOMMENDED 50 100 75 0-50 0 100 75 0-50 0


Seeds may be inoculated with the appropriate isolates of Rhizobium to increase nitrogen fixation and yields. When purchasing inoculum, purchase fresh inoculum each year, and follow suppliers' guidelines to make sure that you are purchasing the correct strains to inoculate each crop species.

Bush Snap Beans: Plants should be spaced 1.5-2 in. within rows and 18-36 in. between rows. Use the higher plant population under a more favorable environment. Sow 75-100 lb of seed/A (approximately 0.5 lb/100 feet of row) depending on seed type and percent germination. Plant seed 1-1.5 in. deep, depending on soil type and/or soil moisture content. Repeat seeding every 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply.

Pole Beans: Pole beans can be supported by a bean trellis of a large mesh nylon material or chicken wire fencing. Removing the plants from the fence is a chore, while nylon mesh is disposable. The traditional manner is to use a 4 pole tepee method. When using the trellis or fence method, plant seeds 1-2 in. deep, 6 in. apart, in rows 4 feet apart. For the tepee method, plant 6-7 seeds around each pole. One lb of seed will plant 240 feet of row or around 150 poles.

Lima Beans: Plants should be spaced 4-6 in. within rows and 18-36 in. between rows. Use 40-60 lb seed/A (4-6 oz/100 feet of row). Plant 1 in. deep in moist heavy soils and 2 in. deep in dry, sandy soils.

Dry Beans: Plants should be spaced 2-3 in. within rows and 28-36 in. between rows. Rate of seeding depends on seed size, percent germination, time of planting, and row spacing (check seed supplier recommendations for each cultivar). Plant 1 in. deep in moist heavy soils and 2 in. deep in dry, sandy soils.


Snap Beans: Snap beans for fresh market should be harvested when they reach the desired size. Beans should be harvested when the pod is bright green and fleshy, and the seeds are small and green.  Pods should snap easily when bent. Large-scale growers should investigate mechanical harvesters. Hand-harvest multiple times or machine-harvest once when the highest percentage of marketable beans are mature.  Optimum storage conditions are 41-45°F at 95-100% relative humidity, but storage time is limited. Temperatures of 38°F and lower may cause chilling injury. After >10% weight loss, beans will not be marketable. Avoid storing or shipping beans with ethylene-generating fruits and vegetables. 

Lima beans: Harvest should take place when 2/3-3/4 of the pods have filled and are yellowing, but before any pods have dried. Other harvest practices are similar to that for dry beans. 

Dry beans: Most require 90-100 days to mature. Dry beans should not be harvested until the majority of pods have turned yellow and thoroughly matured, but before the pods dry to the point of shatter. The mature beans should be so hard that you cannot easily bite into the seed. Harvesting in the morning while there is still dew can minimize loss to shatter. Mechanized harvesting can be done with a puller-cutter, which will uproot or cut the entire plant and lay it on the ground in windrows as the machine moves along the field. Windrows can be combined when beans have dried to 18% moisture.  Once shelled, beans should be conditioned using a low temperature and dried to a moisture level of 15-16%, then stored in rodent and insect proof bins at temperature ranging from 35-55ºF.

Defoliants/Harvest Aids for Dry Beans

carfentrazone (Aim EC): PHI 0d, REI 12h, Group 14.  Apply 1 to 6.1 fl oz per acre to use as a harvest aid to dry beans at maturity when 80 to 90% of seed pods are yellow or buck skin in color and only 30% of green leaves remain on the plant. Thorough coverage is essential for harvest aid and multiple applications may be needed. For optimum performance use 15 to 30 gallons per acre finished sprayed with a methylated seed oil (MSO) type adjuvant to ensure thorough coverage and retention for harvest aid.

flumioxazin (Valor SX): PHI 5d.  Apply when crop is mature and at least 80% of the pods are yellowing and mostly ripe with no more than 40% (bush type beans) or 30% (vine type beans) of the leaves still green in color. To ensure thorough coverage use 15-30 gallons spray solution per acre. Do not apply more than 3 oz/A during a single application and do not apply more than 3 oz/A during a single growing season.  Adjuvant required. Crop oil concentrate or methylated seed oil at 2% v/v should be used. A spray grade nitrogen source (either ammonium sulfate at 2-2.5 lb/A or a 28-32% nitrogen solution at 1-2 qt/A) may also be added to the spray mixture to enhance desiccation. Can be tank mixed with glyphosate or paraquat to increase control of emerged weeds and aid in harvest.

paraquat (Gramoxone SL 2.0)PHI 7d, REI 48h, Group 22.  Apply 1.2 to 2 pt/A in 20 gal water with ground equipment or in a minimum of 5 gal water with aerial equipment. Add spreader (nonionic) at 1 qt per 100 gal spray mix. For vining-type beans or bush-type with lush growth, use a single application of the higher rate. May also be applied as a split application. Do not make more than two applications or exceed a total of 2 pts/A. The split application method may improve vine coverage. Apply when the crop is mature and at least 80% of the pods are yellowing and mostly ripe with no more than 40% (bush type) or 30% (vine type) of the leaves still green in color. Do not apply when weather conditions favor spray drift. A drift control agent may be included to reduce spray drift. Do not use on fava beans. May be fatal if swallowed or inhaled. Applicators must complete an EPA-approved paraquat training listed on the following website The training must be completed a minimum of every three years.

saflufenacil (Sharpen): PHI 2d. Make a single application of 1-2 fl oz/A in a minimum spray volume of 10 gallons/A over the top of dry edible beans that have reached physiological maturity (at least  80% yellow/brown pods, and no more than 30% of leaves still green for vine-type beans/lentils or no more than 40% of leaves still green for bush-type beans). Thorough spray coverage and a methylated seed oil plus ammonium-based adjuvant system (refer to the Additives Section of label for details) are required for optimum desiccation activity. Allow up to 10 days for optimum desiccation effect.