Bean: Snap, Lima and Dry

Introduction

Snap and dry beans are relatively easy to grow in New England while Lima beans are more difficult. Other specialty bean crops grown in New England include Edamame soybeans (Glycine max) and fava or broad beans (Vicia faba). Beans should be planted in well-drained soil to reduce the chances of disease, and should not be repeatedly planted in the same field (rotate every 2 to 3 years) because of soil-borne diseases.

Planting should commence 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 insure maximum pod set under dry soil conditions. Temperatures above 90°F or below 50°F cause poor pod set.

Types and Varieties

Snap Beans

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

Lima Beans

Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) are of minor importance in most areas in New England. Seed germination requires warm soil. The need to plant late and the days to maturity of available varieties sharply reduce length of the harvest season and restrict 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.

Snap, LIMA, and DRY Bean Varieties
Snap Beans - green Lima Beans
Ambra - BCMV, CT Fordhook 242
Bronco - BCMV Eastland - DM
Concesa - BCMV, HB King of the Garden - pole
Contender - BCMV, PM  
Dusky - BCMV, PM, HB, BBR Dry Beans
Jade - BCMV Jacob's Cattle
Pony Express - BCMV, CT Maine Yellow Eye
Provider - BCMV, PM Pinto
Tema - BCMV Redkote Kidney - HB
Boone - BCMV, PM, HB, BBR Seafarer Pea Bean - A, HB, BCMV
Fortex - pole White Marrow
  Marfax
Snap Beans - Italian flat-podded  
Greencrop - BCMV Snap beans - yellow/wax
Romano 942 - BCMV Carson - BCMV, A
Roma II - BCMV Rocdor - BCMV, A
Navarro - BCMV Eureka - BCMV, BBR
Romano Gold (yellow) Monte Gusto - pole
   
Snap Bean - slender filet Snap beans - purple
Concador Royal Burgundy
Maxibel Purple-Podded Pole - pole
Nickel  
Soleil (yellow) Shell Beans
Tavera - A, BCMV French Horticultural - HB

 

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 to 6.8.

Apply no more than 80 to 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 inches 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.

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

Beans require less nitrogen fertilizer if manure or legume sod was plowed down (see Table 1, Nitrogen Credits from Manure and Table 2, Nitrogen Credits from Previous Crops).

PLANT NUTRIENT RECOMMENDATION ACCORDING TO SOIL TEST RESULTS FOR Bean: Snap, Dry, and Lima
Bean: Snap, LIMA and DRY NITROGEN (N)* LBS PER ACRE PHOSPHORUS (P) LBS P2O5 PER ACRE POTASSIUM (K) LBS K2O PER ACRE
SOIL TEST RESULTS   VERY LOW LOW OPTIMUM ABOVE OPTIMUM VERY LOW LOW OPTIMUM ABOVE OPTIMUM
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
*SEE PLANT NUTRIENTS FOR INFORMATION ON NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT AND APPLICATION.
**DO NOT EXCEED A TOTAL OF 80LB. N/A PLUS K20 AS A PREPLANT INCORPORATE, IF NECESSARY.

Planting

Seeds may be inoculated with Rhizobium phaseoli to increase nitrogen fixation.

Bush Snap Beans: Plants should be spaced 1.5" to 2" within rows and 18" to 36" between rows. Use the higher plant population under a more favorable environment. Sow 75 to 100 lb of seed/A (approximately 0.5 lb/100' of row) depending on seed type and percent germination. Plant seed 1" to 2" deep, depending on soil type and/or soil moisture content. Repeat seeding every 2 to 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" to 2" deep, 6" apart, in rows 4' apart. For the tepee method, plant 6 to 7 seeds around each pole. One lb of seed will plant 240' of row or around 150 poles.

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

Dry Beans: Plants should be spaced 2" to 3" within rows and 28" to 36" between rows. Rate of seeding depends on seed size, percent germination, time of planting, and row spacing (check seed company recommendations for each cultivar). Plant seed 1" to 2" deep depending on soil type and/or soil moisture content.  

Defoliation of Dry Beans

paraquat (Gramoxone SL 2.0): Apply 0.75 to 1.3 pt/A (7 dh, REI 48h, Group 22) 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 1.5 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.

Harvest

Snap beans: Average snap bean yields are 4,000 lb/A (80 lb/100' of row) for bush and 2,500 lb/A (50 lb/100' of row) for pole. Hand-picked snap beans are in demand. Piece rate or share picking (1:1) is suggested for payment. This can increase picker efficiency. Large scale growers should investigate mechanical harvesters. 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.  Optimum storage conditions are 41-45° F at 95-100% relative humidity, but storage time is limited. After >10% weight loss, beans will not be marketable.

Lima beans: A good yield of shelled lima beans is 3,000 lb/A. Requiring warmer soils to plant than some other beans, limas can be challenging to reach maturity in northern New England. Harvest should take place when 2/3-3/4 of the pods have filled and are yellowing. Other harvest practices are similar to that for dry beans. 

Dry beans: Most require 90-100 days to mature. Good dry bean yields range from 1500 to 1800 lbs. per acre, or about 60 lbs/bushel. 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 to 16%, then stored in rodent and insect proof bins at temperature ranging from 35 to 55°F.

Sources

Darby, H. and Cummings, E. “Northeast Dry Bean Production Guide” University of Vermont Extension, October 2016.