Pole bean production

socalfarmerMarch 17, 2013

I've bean planting pole beans for a few seasons. They grow well, produce beans, but then seem to just stop. I don't know the varieties I've planted as I just grab whatever my local garden center has in the rack. How long should pole beans produce? Does the variety make a difference or cultivation, or are pole beans short lived? Thank you

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sweetquietplace(6 WNC Mtn.)

It depends on what you want from a bean. If you want fresh green beans, study the varieties and select what you want. This type needs to be picked every couple of days to keep it producing. If you want shellies or dried beans, there's different varieties for those. You don't pick them until they're ripe, full-to-bursting, or dried. The vines mostly stop producing once the beans start ripening. Also, you have to consider the condition of the soil and amount of water the plants are receiving. The internet, and this forum especially, is full of information. Maybe you too will become a bean fanatic. Best wishes for the new gardending season.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 5:25AM
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I want fresh green beans and I'm thinking perhaps I wasn't picking them often enough. I have a small space and therefore just one large bean tower. I would wait until there were enough beans for a meal to pick them. I think my watering is correct and I amend the soil with compost. It just seems like they are done so quickly. Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 6:48PM
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Any way you can plant some as early as possible and some more 4-6 weeks later?

I plant some Fortex about June 1 and some more in mid-July.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:23AM
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I've had my pole beans stop producing when it gets too hot in the middle of summer. The blossoms fall off, thus no beans for a short period. The plants are fine and they start blooming again once the period of high temps passes. After they start up again, they continue on until frost. Perhaps you need to choose varieties that are better suited for hot weather?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:42AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"Perhaps you need to choose varieties that are better suited for hot weather?"

That was my first thought also. I lived & gardened in SoCal for many years, and depending upon your distance from the coast, there can be periods where the weather is too hot for many beans. El Cajon was in Sunset 23, and it got pretty hot in mid-summer... so I'm guessing that you might have similar climate, SoCalFarmer.

Some varieties have proven to be more reliable in the heat, such as the pole varieties "Rattlesnake" and "Purple Pole", and the bush heirloom "Woods Mountain Crazy Bean" (offered by members of this forum). Even those might struggle in the intense summer heat of the inland valleys.

While pole snap beans are considered to be everbearing if kept picked, they do have periods where they slow down between flushes. Stimulating the plants to return to a vegetative phase will cause the vines to rebound more quickly. You can do this by picking all remaining pods from the vines, regardless of size, and pruning the ends of the vines. A light application of a high-N fertilizer - applied as a foliar spray - can also help trigger new growth. Keep the plants well watered during this phase.

One other factor comes to mind: soil temperature & moisture. I tie those two together because mulch improves both. Even in the more moderate climate I garden in now, a thick layer of mulch results in much better bean health... if I am late getting mulch down, the beans will languish until I do. In your climate, and given the cost of water in SoCal, a good layer of mulch around your beans is even more important. Straw would probably be the most effective medium.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 6:12PM
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