Pole limas - 10-20 lbs per plant?

anney(Georgia 8)May 23, 2009

Is this information correct? Lima beans have an undeserved reputation for being difficult to grow. If you follow the basic steps for growing snap beans, your limas will thrive. As with green beans, lima beans come in two forms  bush lima and pole lima. The bush limas will grow to 10 to 15 inches tall and 4 to 8 inches wide. The pole lima will climb to 8 to 15 feet tall and the plants will be 6 to 8 inches wide. For sure the pole lima will need a good sized trellis to hold it. A 25 foot row of bush limas will produce 6 to 8 pounds of beans in their shells. The pole version will produce 10 to 20 pounds for one plant.

If THIS is true, I may need to re-think how many I'm going to plant, even if they produce that many over a number of months!

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jimster(z7a MA)

How about these little gems?

"If your soil is decent, lima bean plants will send roots down 36 to 48 inches deep. For sure you want to loosen your soil at least down to 12 inches."

"The most common pole lima trellis is made from 5 our 6 young trees from the woods that are about 2 to 3 inches in diameter and at least 15 feet tall."

Better not take chances. Loosen the soil the full 48 inches deep and use 20 foot long poles.

That's a nutty site. Stick with your original plans!


    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 9:36AM
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Concur. Someone , somewhere may got that type of yield from a single specimen plant. I never have or seen anyone else do it. Description of bush limas is pretty far off also. They do need warmer soil than common beans. A major mistake is trying to rush the season by planting too early.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 12:18PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Well, I sowed 16' of Willow Leaf limas and 16' of Italian pole beans today. Took you at your word about the limas, Jimster! Still have lots of Southern peas to sow later today or tomorrow, along with some okra and need to set out six late Ruters tomato plants. But that will be it! My son's going to be the corn-master, and I think he plans to sow it this weekend, too.

My Fortex and pole wax beans are growing like mad two weeks after sowing them. Some have already climbed five feet on the trellis. Some are still trying to FIND the trellis; they don't stay there when I thread them into it!

Farmerdilla, I suppose it would be nice if every lima bean plant produced even 10 pounds of beans, but I think many of us would have to cut down on the amount we sowed.

I just hate it when websites purporting to give out information have it dead-wrong.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 2:17PM
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Actually under good conditions, pole lima s will produce about twice as much for me per foot of row. Not always the case I have had years when bush limas out produced the pole limas. lots of variation among cultivars also. I think if the author of that article had been paying attention, he would probably have stated 10-25 lbs per 25 foot of row. Unfortunately most writers are not growers, they research, which means erroneous information keeps getting repeated, unless it is so far out to be obvious to most readers.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 3:10PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

"Unfortunately most writers are not growers, they research..."

Precisely!!!! That's the trouble with many books. I find it easy to distinguish a book written from the author's knowledge from a book based on research. Guess which ones I buy.

It's also the reason I have more confidence in information I find on this site, written by people like farmerdilla and others who speak from extensive experience. Not everything on this site is valid, of course. Far from it. But it's easy enough to sort the good stuff from the other.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 5:43PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Ditto on the above comments - don't take that website as gospel.

Given adequate space & fertile soil, the yield from pole limas can indeed be very high. But while the yield from a single coddled pole bean can be remarkable (I grew one pound of pole snap bean seed per plant last year) I can't see 10-20 pounds per plant as being feasible. Using 24" spacing between pole lima plants, I get somewhere around 4-5 pounds of shellies per plant, if the season is long enough for all pods to reach maturity. Assuming this estimate to be correct, that works out to about 1-2 pounds per row foot for pole limas. Yield can vary considerable, depending upon variety; "Sieva" (a.k.a. "Carolina") has been my highest yielder.

Keep in mind, the yield advantage for pole beans vs. bush beans is row-for-row. For a single row, pole beans are clearly the winner; but for multiple rows, because of the wider row spacing required, much of this advantage is lost. You can fit more rows of bush limas into a given area than rows of pole limas, so if you have the space, it may not matter. Most of the larger-seeded varieties, however, are pole.

I do concur with their recommendation for mulching, although their emphasis on one exact depth seems arbitrary. Mulching is good practice for any pole bean, once the seedlings have their first true leaf. By conserving moisture, it reduces blossom drop, which improves the yield. It also provides nutrients as it breaks down, and reduces disease problems caused by mud splash.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 6:47PM
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I'm so new to gardening that my learning curve is through the roof! Thankfully I live in So. Cal, so I think nature is helping to reward me so I don't get discouraged. I've planted several varieties of pole beans that I germinated from dried beans. So far so good (by "good" I mean at least they are growing - we'll see how I feel after they do/don't produce). I'm taking a stab at Lima beans using the same method. Without knowing the exact variety, how the heck do I know if I'm planting bush or pole limas? Unless I'm not understanding, it seems like this is important info before I put these babies in the ground!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 11:52PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Tiffany I have been gardening in So Cal and I so agree with you, it is nearly heavenly! Many beans do great here. I try to succession plant them so we are always harvesting some peas, beans or other legume, at any time of the year. So far so good. Right now I got the tail end of the peas, some scarlet runners ready to pick and tiny itsy bitsy still not ready but growing pods from purple poles (purple peacock).

To answer your question, the seed package or the seed provider (if you traded) should say if it is bush or pole/vining. Sometimes they don't say much but they say that it needs trellising, then it is pole. It they say nothing at all of support or trellis then it is bush. If you got beans from your pantry, grocery store beans, they are likely to be bush rather than pole, because commercial production/harvest would favor bush. I did that with some nice limas from the pantry, and they were semi bush though, or semi vining. If you find yourself in this situation, tomato cages work really well if you have extra ones. If you end up with a pole when you thought you had bush you can always build a teepee around them and support after the fact.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 12:59PM
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