Runner Bean Help Please

soonergrandmomMay 29, 2011

I have several packs of runner beans but have not planted them because I don't know of anyone who succeeds with them here. I live in the NE portion of Oklahoma so I have a lot of heat, but I also have a lot of spring moisure. I plant sugar snap peas in the spring and they do fine. I plant pole beans later and they go until the fall frost arrives which is usually very late October.

Will runner beans stand up to my heat? If so when could I plant them? Do they taste good?

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I can only answer the last question confidently - yes! :)

(I grow runner beans every year but I can't advise for your climate. My first sowing are already three feet up their poles so maybe you should sow them asap?)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:55PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

I can't imagine why runner beans wouldn't do well if you can grow peas and other beans.

Try them again. When the weather starts getting hot, mulch them to keep the roots damp and cooler, avoiding the wet/dry/wet/dry stresses.

As an experiment, try some in full sun and some in part shade, as that might be the difference.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 2:24PM
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Yes, they taste great. I think they are better than P. vulgaris varieties for flavor. A rich, very "beany" flavor.

Unfortunately, the blossoms set very poorly in hot conditions, especially if dry. What you may find is that they grow and flower well in the summer as long as you keep them watered, but few to no pods.

However, I would suspect you have fairly extended autumns in Oklahoma with periods of cooler but pleasant weather, and fairly late freezes most years. I would venture that when it starts too cool off mid-late September, you should start to get pods, and would probably get a fairly decent harvest through October. Be sure to deadhead any that do set earlier so that they don't go to seed and stop production. If you get a tiny handful now and again, perhaps you could keep a bag going in the freezer and just add to it until you have enough for a meal.

Also, you could probably get away with planting them mid-July and still get that fall crop, without having to nurse them so long through a hot Oklahoma summer.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 2:37PM
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Runner beans do not do well in hot weather. Even here in the PNW there was poor pod set in the summmer of 2009 when July temperatures exceeded 100F for several days.

Insuk's Wang Kong is reported to tolerate heat better than other runners.

Runner seeds are cold tolerant and they can be planted just before the last expected frost date for a better chance at a harvest. Or, as denninmi wrote, plant them later. Try to time it so they will blossom after fall temperatures are below 100.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 9:35AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

" ...Runner seeds are cold tolerant ..." Depends what you mean by 'cold'. They will not take any kind of frost and there is no point sowing them until soil temps reach at least 50f. In cool wet soil they will just rot. They will germinate and grow much better in soil temps in the 60 - 80s. They transplant easily so you can start them under glass for putting out after all risk of frost is past.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 12:14PM
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Soonergrandma, next year plant your runners at the same time that you plant your spring peas, and they will do fine, and yes they do taste good, sweeter than common beans. Don't be put off by the strange rough appearance of the beans.

You can try planting runners now, maybe in a shaded location, but will probably find your summer is too hot for them. Vines will grow but pollen and blooms may fail, though they might flower and set beans in the fall. Grow your runners as a fall or spring crop like your peas. If your winter is mild enough the runner root may survive it and produce beans in the spring. They can live as perennials in some climates.

Let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 12:31PM
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Thanks, I think the few people that plant them here do so as a short term ornamental. I have three large packages now so I guess I will experiment. I'll probably wait until fall when I have a little more garden space. Thanks for your help. Carol

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 4:43PM
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Hi Flora, By cold tolerant, I mean compared to common beans. They can be planted at least two weeks earlier and in much cooler soil. Minumun of 50F soil temperature compared to minumum of 65F for common beans. I always pre-sprout beans anyway or I would have to wait until late June for 65F soil many years!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 1:13AM
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Oklahoma City is at N35, Tulsa halfway between N35 and N36. In other words, NE Oklahoma is about the same latitude as the Strait of Gibraltar. However they are well inland.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:49AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

...... a short term ornamental ......

If you don't pick the beans the plants will go over much quicker.

To enjoy runners at their best pick them when still flat and the beans are just slight bumps. If the beans inside are well defined the pods will be too tough. I think that many people who say they've tried runners and not liked them have been picking them far too late.

drloyd - yes, I also have to start mine indoors as our soil temps are not warm enough until later. I do batches of 9 at 2 weekly intervals so that they don't all mature at once. The last 9 I direct sow. 36 plants is ample for us. That way I can pick from mid June to frost, sometimes mid November.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 5:11AM
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happyday - I live slightly north of N36.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 9:16PM
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About the same latitude as the southern tip of Sicily, then?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 8:32AM
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Flora, Seattle weather is thought to be similar to much of the UK but your area has a much earlier spring and later frost than here. Picking beans in June, wow!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 11:13AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Many factors in addition to latitude determine climate. Localities at the same latitude can have very different climates.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 9:49PM
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Runner beans are day length sensitive. When I grew them in the PNW, the first flush of beans came towards August when nights got cooler and days grew shorter. Runners won't set beans when days are long and hot so I can't grow them here in the SE. You probably can't grow them in Oklahoma, but why not try anyway?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 10:06PM
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Runner beans are day length sensitive. the first flush of beans came towards August when days grew shorter

Are you sure that short days are what triggered pod set? What part of the PNW were you in?

The UK is in the same latitude as most of Canada and the southern part of Alaska. They have longer summer days and shorter nights than the PNW. Flora said she starts picking in June.

I am in the same latitude as Washington/Oregon, and my IWKs began to set pods in late June or July.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 11:28PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

As happyday says - I'm not convinced by the day length idea. I've certainly never seen it offered as a reason for pod failure. Runners set both before and after the longest day here. The main factor in when they will start to appears to be how early we can get them in the ground i.e. how early the temperature is high enough and the risk of frost low enough. Mine have been flowering for a couple of weeks now, before they even reach the top of their poles, and the embryo beans are setting. The first should be pickable in a week or so. Because we don't have hot summers they will then go on fruiting until frost.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reasons for pod failure

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 5:51AM
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