Disappointing runner bean production

hemnancy(z8 PNW)August 27, 2013

I tried some white-flowered runner beans this year, and found most of the flowers did not set beans. I grew Insuk's Wang Kong before and had a high degree of beans set on. I don't know if pollinators don't like white flowers or what is going on. I did see a hummingbird visiting the white flowers, I was afraid they would not. As the season goes on there have been more beans setting on, but not comparable to IWK, which was pretty much my highest yielding pole bean last year. I've realized I am not much for shelly beans anyway, since I like the food value of the pods, and eat even runner beans with pods since I don't mind chewing up the pod and spitting out the fiber. So I don't think I will try white-seeded runner beans again. Otherwise I have been having a very good bean year, except that one trellis set-up has a very large vole population and they have been nipping off all the bean stalks down the row, even after my usual deterrent of wrapping the stems with aluminum foil.:-(

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Hi Nancy,

The hummers do seem to like white runner bean blossoms.

This has been the warmest summer that I can remember and your area is 5-10 degrees F warmer than here. Bond's Orcas Lima barely set pods in the 80 F plus weather here. I have heard that 85 F is about the limit for most runner beans. Insuk's is more suited to hot weather. - Dick

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 7:00PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

My runner beans have been disappointing this year as well. I am growing "Tarahumara Tekomari", which has red or white flowers, and gray seeds. They bloomed early, but would not set pods until we had a brief cool spell. Setting a lot of pods now, though... it helps that the bumblebees are out in force.

Speaking of heat tolerance... it seemed to me that the white-flowered / white-seeded "Gigandes" set a fair amount of pods last year during the warmth of mid-summer. It was a tough year for them, between heat & hail; I am looking forward to growing them again under better conditions.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 12:56AM
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" .....and eat even runner beans with pods since I don't mind chewing up the pod and spitting out the fiber...."

There really shouldn't be any fibre in a runner bean eaten as a green bean. Either you are leaving them too long before eating or you have a poor cultivar. The beans inside the pods should be barely discernible if you pick them for green beans. At the very most you may need to string them, but the pod itself should not have any tough fibre.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 6:57AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

That's just it, I like the beans to develop before I pick them, so I do pick them later, and then some are fibrous, but not all. The ones I grew this year tended to be very short, so not very substantial to pick without the seeds developing at all.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 3:22PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I don't know if pollinators don't like white flowers or what is going on.
peas and beans are self pollinating and do not need insects or anything else. I have heard that some varieties get pollinated before fully opening. although, it is possible that insects may cross pollinate them, but otherwise they do not need insects' help.

I am also in PNW and have planted several Scarlet Runners. Early on they had very few pods but lately they are growing more.

I like their pods at every stage;; as young green and slightly matured shellies. With Shellies you get more bang for the buck. Matured pods are quite long (8" ?) and large and have many large beans.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 2:04AM
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The two issues seem to be temperature and pollination. Too hot, no beans.

Some have bagged blossom clusters to prevent cross pollination. The result was that "some varieties produce some beans" but I do not know if good production of any runner is possible without pollinators.

Here is a link that might be useful: Runner bean pollination

This post was edited by drloyd on Sun, Sep 1, 13 at 11:38

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:31AM
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I guess I'm just not on your wavelength, hemnancy ;-) To me that's like growing apples so you can eat the stalks, pips and cores! Oh, well, they're your beans.

Mine were a disaster this year. They were fine when I went on holiday but when I got back there had been no rain at all and they were just about finished before they started. Worst year ever for runners for me.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 2:14PM
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