How to Grow Bush Beans
Growing Bush Beans In Your Backyard or Garden
Backyard gardeners and large scale farmers alike find bush beans easy to grow. As the name implies, these beans grow into bushes and don't require poles for support. This versatile crop includes a wide variety of snap beans, green shelling beans and dry shell beans that are favorites on the dinner table.
Bush beans are warm-season vegetables, so plant them once the danger of frost has passed. They prefer a minimum soil temperature of 65 degrees. Cooler soil may rot the seeds before germination. Overnight temperatures should reach 55 degrees, too. Planting can occur as early as April in southern climate zones, but as late as June in cooler northern regions.
Bush beans thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Enrich the soil prior to planting to avoid fertilizing later. Soil should be neutral or slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Apply lime if pH levels are below 5.8.
Bush beans germinate in six to 10 days. Some varieties mature in as little as 50 days, but 60 days is more typical. Extend the harvest by sowing seeds every two weeks until two months before the first fall frost.
Watering early in the day lets leaves dry out before nighttime. Give them two to three inches of water each week.
Planting bush beans
A number of bean varieties can be grown as bushes, so browse Southern States' seed catalog to find your family's favorites or try new ones.
These seeds can be planted by hand or with a garden seeder. Plant them one to two inches deep and two to three inches apart. Space the rows 24 to 36 inches apart. Once seedlings develop leaves, thin them so they're six inches apart. In humid climates, allow more space between the plants for better airflow.
Sprinkling an inoculant in the rows during planting enhances the beans' nitrogen-fixing ability.
Pests and diseases
Beetles are the most common pest. Bacterial or wilt diseases can occur when it's hot and humid. Bush beans also can suffer from bean mosaic, anthracnose, bean blight, bean rust, as well as white mold and gray mold. Consult your local Southern States dealer for pest control treatments.
To prevent spreading diseases, never handle or harvest wet beans, clean up the garden at the end of the season and rotate crops annually.
Harvest bush beans before the pods are fully mature and while they're still tender. That's usually one to two weeks after flowering. Pick beans regularly to keep the plants producing.
When harvesting by hand, gently remove beans to avoid damaging the pods and plants. Harvest only the bean pods that are ready.
Farmers with more than a few rows of beans prefer bush varieties, because they're easy to harvest by machine. It's helpful to start with weed-free fields and beans that are relatively uniform in size and maturity.
Mechanical harvesters can be tractor-pulled or self-propelled. Picking heads range from 10 to 15 feet wide and can pick one row or multiple rows. Opposing brushes strip bean pods from the vines and leave the plant stems. Beans move through separators to remove dirt and leaves before reaching the container. Harvesting machines for shelled bean varieties combine harvesting and shelling.
Pack harvested beans loosely into containers and protect them from heat and sun. To offset field and the beans natural respiration heat, immediate and thorough cooling is necessary. Cooling maintains quality and lengthens shelf life. Methods vary greatly based on the farm's size.
Once in the packing area, a grading table or belted conveyor removes culls and sorts pods. Most commercial buyers only accept beans that are U.S. No. 1 quality or higher.
Off to market
Deliver bush beans to the processor or buyer as quickly as possible. One-bushel wire bound crates are commonly used. Put larger quantities into cartons that hold 20 to 30 pounds or wire bound crates that hold 26 to 3l pounds. Stack containers so air circulates easily.
When stored or transported with other commodities, remember that beans absorb odors. If other produce emits ethylene gas, it hastens bean maturity. Also consider if the temperature and humidity levels are appropriate for all of the produce.
Be sure to share your own bush bean planting and harvesting tips here.