Successful Pole & Half Runner Beans In The South

terowan(8a--NC)June 16, 2010

I have always had an easy time of growing pole beans when I gardened in Virginia. When I moved to NC it has been a different matter. I understand that the heat and humidity interfere with pollination. However, I have grown recommended varieties like Kentucky Wonder, Kentucky Blue etc. and the results were disappointing productivity. They worked some but not impressive. Are there any varieties that excel in the heat and humidity of the south? What are successful bean growers growing?

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The most heat tolerant pole bean in the south is Rattlesnake.

You can grow just about any pole bean down here if you start the seed early enough. I routinely grow varieties that are seriously heat challenged by starting them the first week of April.

Lima beans are significantly more heat tolerant on average. You still have to plant Lima's before the 1st of June to get a crop because they take a long time to make a full size plant.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 6:07PM
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What about fall planting? I'm doing yard longs now and also trying some cowpea/butterpea now and I'm going to try the snap and greasies thisi fall. I try the insuks early this spring, had lovely flowers but not a single bean. I just yanked them this week and put Some dragon tongue in their place.
I'm pretty clueless on beans, this is my first year growing them in the south.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 4:37AM
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Insuk's Wang Kong is a runner bean (phaseolus coccineus). It must be planted just as early as possible and should preferably be on the north side of a tall crop like corn. Even then, in a hot dry year it will only make flowers. Don't let this deter you, the flowers are gorgeous!

Lima beans (phaseolus lunatus) - whether the large seeded potato lima, the small seeded sieva, or the bush butterpea - will produce exceptionally well if they are planted reasonably early. You could still get a crop of butterpeas if planted now. The potato lima is not as well adapted to the deep south as the sieva types.

Snap beans (phaseolus vulgaris) can be planted now and if carefully nurtured for the first few weeks will produce a crop well before frost. Dragon Tongue and the various greasy beans will struggle in the heat of summer. Be prepared to water them regularly.

Cowpeas (vigna unguiculata) are the most heat tolerant legume we commonly grow. I planted several rows of Whipporwill, Piggott Family Heirloom, Franklin Red, and Howell over the last few days. The yardlongs can be planted now but they tend to be relatively long season so won't be as productive on average as the regular cowpeas.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 8:07AM
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Thanks, Dar. I'll try insuk again this fall. The butter peas are taking off. Yardlongs are very slow. Anything I can do to help them?
What do butter peas taste like? I was expecting a small Lima but they look like southern peas.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 1:37AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

terowan, was any of the above helpful? Let us know, please.

Another suggestion: You could contact Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center (SMAC), Berea, Kentucky, for heat-tolerant varieties. They specialize in old family heirloom pole beans from the Southern Appalachian and other Southern regions. Two beans in their collection originated in your state (but perhaps not in your County).

ÂGwyn Campbell Half-Runner, and
ÂCherokee Greasy

With South Carolina summers varying from cool mountainous to hot-humid coastal areas, beans that do well in one area may do poorly in summer's heat in the other.

If no beans will fit your mid-summer's heat & humidity, the heat workhorse, Southern Peas, propably will do very well for you. Check out Willhite Seed in Texas.

Yardlongs also tolerate heat well but are considered more of a novelty, not yielding nearly as well as regular beans.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center (SMAC)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 12:00PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center has a fascinating web site with good reading and good pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: photos of beans from SMAC's album

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 12:13PM
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ppod and others: Thank you for your ideas. I will be trying Rattlesnake Pole Bean for an early august and next spring planting. The SMAC site is great but as the name implies the beans are from the mountain county areas and so I would assume are acclimated more to their climate. I am located near Newport, NC about 5 miles from the ocean, so the climate here is not real bean friendly. I hope rattlesnake does well. The interesting thing is I don't hear too many people saying, "I live in the deep south (coastal plain or piedmont) and I grow pole beans very successfully with great productivity." If there was anyone who could say that I would love to hear it.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:16PM
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Lol Terowan, Ask Rodger to chime in.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:21PM
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I have sent Rodger an email and yes I would appreciate all advice from successful pole bean growers in the hot and humid south.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 3:02PM
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You have an e-mail response. I will also add that Zelma Zesta bean is a rattlesake type pole developed by my wifes Uncle in the central peidmont of SC and does very well in the heat. I have it growing now for seed. This years productions is down compared to past years but it has been record setting heat all June when it is normally about 10deg cooler. Zelma Zesta can be bought from Southern Exposure seeds and from Heavenly seeds. Rodger

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 3:45PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Terowan, Though it's not exactly the kind of beans you've been looking for, I'm linking to a discussion on butterbeans and limas that may pique your interest. Apparently, these beans do extremely well in hot, humid conditions.
black jungle butterbeans

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 12:28AM
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rodger, thanks for the info. It was useful to read, "It is the time of year that they are planted that is key."
ppod, I will look into the butterbeans and limas too. thanks

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 11:29AM
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