All About Growing Dry Beans and Peas

Runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) produce sweeter immature pods compared with other dry beans, and the plants’ showy flowers entice bumblebees. Runner beans benefit from cool nights and are easier to grow than lima beans in moderate climates. The dry seeds are big, colorful and meaty, resembling lima beans but possessing a sweeter flavor. ‘Scarlet Emperor’ bears purple-and-black seeds. The seeds of peach-blossomed ‘Sunset’ are almost entirely black, while those of ‘Streamline’ are speckled black and brown. Runner beans prefer soil with a near-neutral pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) thrive in warm, humid weather and are often resistant to pests that bother regular beans. Pole-type varieties, including ‘Christmas’ (‘Large Speckled Calico’) and white-seeded ‘King of the Garden,’ can return huge yields if supplied with a secure trellis. Bushy ‘Jackson Wonder’ can be grown as a dry bean, too. Dried limas are easier to shell than tender green ones. Lima beans favor slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5.

Cowpeas or crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata), collectively known as “Southern peas” or “field peas,” originated in Africa and have retained their need for warm weather. Glossy cowpea leaves are of no interest to common bean pests, and the purple blossoms set fruit even in humid heat, making this crop ideal for areas with hot, humid summers. ‘Early Scarlet’ and other bushy varieties set their pods high, which allows for easy picking, but you will get more peas per square foot via semi-vining varieties, such as ‘Pinkeye Purple Hull,’ ‘Mississippi Silver’ brown crowder and ‘Peking Black’ crowder. Small-seeded, almost-white ‘Zipper Cream’ is much-loved for its creamy culinary attributes and grows in a bush form. Cowpeas grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) are native to the Southwest and Mexico, where they have been part of the traditional diet for thousands of years. Tepary beans are planted during the summer rainy season. They have smaller leaves than regular beans and adapt well to the alkaline soils found in many arid climates. Tolerant of heat and drought, tepary beans can produce well in any climate that has plenty of late-summer warmth and limited humidity. White-seeded ‘Tohono O’odham White’ and more colorful ‘Blue Speckled’ make excellent low-care crops in areas with hot summers. Tepary beans grow best in a neutral to alkaline soil with a pH near 7.0.

When to Plant Dry Beans and Peas

In early spring, sow soup peas in fertile beds four to six weeks before your last frost. All other dry beans and peas are warm-weather crops best sown in late spring and summer. Sow these seeds in fertile soil starting no earlier than two weeks after your last frost date. In areas with long summers, later plantings made in June may have the advantage of ripening during the typically dry weather of early fall, when scant rain reduces chances that pods will rot. In any climate, traditional dry beans with a bush habit can be planted up to 90 days before your first fall frost date.

Harvesting and Storage

Harvest beans and peas for drying anytime after the pods have become leathery up to when they have dried to their mature colors. (For example, the pods of ‘Dwarf Horticultural’ beans turn ivory with red stripes when the seeds inside reach maturity, while the pods of ‘Pinkeye Purple Hull’ cowpeas turn dark purple.) You can harvest green beans and peas for fresh cooking sooner, but seeds you intend to store must be fully ripe.

Leave drying pods on the plants as long as you can, but harvest them before a period of prolonged rain. If damp weather sets in just when your beans should be drying, pull up the plants and hang them upside down in a dry place until the beans are dry enough to pick and sort. Collect drying pods from pole varieties and runner beans as they change to tan or brown, and let the pods dry until crisp in a shallow tray or box kept indoors.

Threshing, or “shelling,” is the process of removing bean seeds from the pods, and you can do it either by machine or by hand. On a home-garden scale, shell a large crop of dry beans or peas by placing the dry pods on a tarp and crushing them by walking over them. Gather the heavy seeds that drop from the pods, and remove debris by pouring the beans back and forth from one bowl into another in front of a fan for a few minutes. Another option for small harvests is to put the pods in a pillowcase, tie the pillowcase closed tightly, and tumble it in a warm (not hot) clothes dryer.

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After shelling and winnowing out debris, place your beans or peas in open bowls, and let them dry at room temperature for two weeks, stirring often. When the seeds are hard and glossy, remove any shriveled beans (dumping the beans over a screen can help), and store your sorted beans in airtight containers. If you suspect bean weevils or other insects may be present in your stored beans or peas, keep the sealed containers in the freezer.

Saving Seeds

Select the largest, most perfect seeds from your stored beans to keep with your cache of garden seeds for replanting. Because the seeds of legumes are self-pollinating, varieties are not likely to cross provided varieties of the same species aren’t grown side by side. When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, dry bean and pea seeds will remain viable for at least four years.

Pest and Disease Prevention

Brick-colored, black-spotted Mexican bean beetles often lay clusters of yellow eggs on leaves of P. vulgaris beans, and the eggs then hatch into yellow larvae that will rasp tissues from leaves. Handpick this pest in all life stages, and try spraying neem on the insects and the leaves they are eating to control light infestations. In large plantings of more than a quarter-acre, try releasing beneficial Pediobius wasps. Mexican bean beetles do not bother cowpeas and are only slightly keen on limas.

Night-feeding cutworms sometimes fell bean seedlings by severing them at the soil line. Diatomaceous earth (DE) sprinkled over the soil’s surface can help reduce losses.

Wait until foliage is dry to pick or weed beans, because bean rust and other leaf-spot diseases can spread between plants when the leaves are wet.

Dry beans and peas are naturally short-lived plants. Promptly pull up and compost any plants that are past their prime in order to interrupt the life cycles of pests and diseases.

More Tips on Growing Dry Beans and Peas

If you’re tight on space, grow dry beans as a succession crop by planting them directly after you harvest spring crops.

Never soak bean seeds in water to speed germination, as this can seriously damage the growing bean embryo by depriving it of needed oxygen.

Go light with fertilizer, because overfed dry beans grow into monstrous plants that don’t produce well. Lima beans are especially sensitive to over-fertilization.

In a Three Sisters garden — which includes beans, squash, and corn or sunflowers — dry beans will work better than snap beans because they can be harvested late, requiring less disturbance of the squash vines.

If legume pods get so dry they shatter when you pick them, lightly dampen the plants with water before gathering, or harvest in the morning when plants are wet with dew.

Locate sources for the bean and pea varieties discussed in this article with our Seed and Plant Finder.

Using Dry Beans and Peas in the Kitchen

Dry beans and peas share an impressive nutritional profile: A 1-cup serving of cooked dry legumes provides about 15 grams of protein plus lots of manganese, fiber, B vitamins and iron. Rinse dry beans well in cool water before cooking. If using a pressure cooker, cook the rinsed beans for 15 to 30 minutes. If you plan to cook dry beans on the stovetop, soak them in room-temperature water for 6 to 12 hours, depending on size. Drain, then cook at a low simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Season slow-cooked beans generously with garlic, bay leaf or thyme. Cooked beans can be simmered for a warm soup or chili, marinated for salads, puréed into dips or spreads, or mashed for filling burritos or enchiladas.

How to Plant Dry Beans and Peas

Loosen well-drained soil to at least 12 inches deep. Mix in a 1-inch layer of mature compost and, if you have it, a spadeful of soil from a bed where the same species of beans or peas grew the year before (to help inoculate the soil with nitrogen-fixing bacteria). Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 3 inches apart. Do not thin soup peas, as these grow best when crowded. Thin bush beans to 4 to 6 inches apart; thin pole beans, limas and semi-vining cowpeas to 10 inches apart. Dry beans and peas bear all at once on spreading branches, so they need wider spacing than snap beans do.

When growing dry beans up cornstalks or sunflowers, wait until the support crop is 18 inches tall, and plant bean seeds on the sunniest side of the corn or sunflowers. As the support crop topples from the weight of the beans, you may need to install stakes to give wandering vines a place to twine. Four- or 5-foot-tall stakes placed every 2 feet in rows of semi-vining cowpeas will help support and boost the productivity of the plants, which often reach heights of 4 feet tall. Pole-type lima beans are a full-season crop that require a sturdy trellis at least 6 feet tall.

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on Google+.

I’ve been growing beans now for a while. They are a big part of my diet, and the nitrogen-fixing bacteria many legumes (not just beans) have are a huge factor of garden design. It’s common practice for me to simply plant a load of beans and peas as soon as a bed is made, both to chop-and-drop but also to pull a good harvest from the first planting. Something I’m realizing, though, as my gardens and harvests get larger, is that harvesting legumes can be quite a time-consuming task. Consequently, I wanted to learn and share more about how to do it efficiently.

Distinctions

Before we begin, it’s probably relevant to make certain distinctions as to what sort of beans and peas I’m talking about here. Namely, green beans, sugar peas, and the rest of those pod-and-all legumes aren’t really part of this discussion. They are picked off the plant and eaten as is. However, other legumes—black, red, and white beans, as well as pigeon peas, chickpeas, and lentils—are generally dried on the plant, requiring shelling to get to the real harvest. These dried beans can be stored for a long time and contribute massively to a garden-based diet.

What I’ve realized as harvests have grown is that sitting to process a couple hundred pounds of beans by hand, the way I saw Mr. Joe from the down the street doing a few pounds of fresh garden peas in front of the TV, takes a tremendous amount of time. It’s not really feasible to individually shell thousands upon thousands of pods each time a cycle finishes. I wanted to know how to do it on a larger scale but still within the scope of a family farmer. To viably grow all (or most) of my own legumes, this knowledge, as well as some bean basics, seemed incredibly necessary.

Growing

Pinto Bean Salad (Courtesy of Chelsea Nesvig)

So, I wanted to first get a reasonable grasp on how many bean plants I’d need to supply my wife and I, and incoming volunteers, enough to eat. To be honest, the numbers are a bit shattering. Dry beans do not come easily by the kilo. It takes roughly 40 productive plants to provide a kilo of dried beans or peas. Obviously, some are better, others worse, but I’m working with malleable ideas here.

Here are some basic thoughts I’ve found about growing beans:

• The growth time for most dried beans tends to be around four months, with the basic requirement of temperatures (for production) being between 15°C (60°F) and 27°C (80°F). With well-timed successions and crop rotations, this can result in several harvests per year. Where I live in Guatemala, the temperature is nearly always in that wheelhouse, so I can do even better.

• Bush beans should be planted roughly 8-10 centimeters apart, while pole beans (less common) require a little more distance, around 10-15 centimeters. They produce better in full sun and prefer soil that isn’t yet high in nitrogen. (High levels of nitrogen equate to more leaves and less beans.) Because they require so many plants and so much space to produce relevant harvests, they are not well-suited for container gardens.

• Beans partner well with several other plants, including corn, cucumbers and squashes, celery, strawberries, rosemary and potatoes. Vines are also happy to climb up sunflowers. On the other hand, they don’t mesh with onions or anything from the allium family. For annual gardens, locals traditionally used the milpa, the famous bean-squash-corn combination.

• Scarlet runner beans (three-meter vines) and pigeon peas (three-meter trees) are two high-producing perennial varieties to include for my region (Siberian/Russian peas are better for the cold). They’ll definitely factor in as long-term garden elements, but I’ll want annual varieties within the rotation as well. There are many types of dry beans available at the farmer’s markets here.

Planning

Beans (Courtesy of Nick Saltmarsh)

For me, hoping to get about half a kilo of beans a day, this equates to a lot of plants, an estimated 7300. The number seems hugely daunting. As well, growing one’s own dry beans seems to be roundly discouraged on traditional farming sites, as buying beans and peas is so cheap and less labor-intensive. But, I’m hard-headed, and I want to try and definitely want to know more about it. My idea, as is the idea of most budding permaculturalists I know, is to produce my own food, and I eat a lot of beans. That means I need to grow them.

The figure I found for planting annual bush beans, kidney and pinto and white, says about 600 plants per 10 square meters, theoretically resulting in around 10 kilos of dry beans. So, doing a little more math, it seems I’m figuring about 60 plants per square meter resulting in one kilo/two days of dried beans to eat. That equates to about 130 square meters of growing space needed annually to produce the prescribed beans. If I can grow three harvests a year, that means at any given time, I need roughly 45 square meters of beans on the go. That seems a little less daunting.

I will have plenty of pigeon peas planted around as nitrogen-fixers and chop-and-drop mulch in the food forest area, as well as teamed with comfrey as fertility-building borders. I’ll use scarlet runner beans to help with keeping vertical spaces productive, though they will be competing with at least two other perennial vines, passion fruit (a favorite of mine) and chayote, for the growing area. But, with that in mind, numbers become all the more reachable. I think I can do it.

Harvesting

Pigeon Peas (Courtesy of Forest and Kim Starr)

Now, the real reason I began writing this article is that I recently harvested a load of pods from a couple of very successful pigeon pea trees I planted last year. Picking them was easy enough, but having to sit a shell even just a couple of kilos of peas takes ages. I wanted to know how to do it more efficiently, how to handle—as a small farmer with sparse equipment—a hundred kilos at a time. I like to think positively. I like to think that I’ll soon reach those lofty legume figures I’ve set, but when that day comes around, the thought of having to shell them all is just utterly horrifying.

The general rule I’ve followed for getting dried beans is to simply wait for them to mature on the plant. The skin of the pod goes leathery, often changing colors, and questionable beans can be left in trays to dry a little further. At times, in Guatemala, this can be challenging, as wet season can be extremely rainy and humid. Typically, however, the rains stop in for two or three weeks in July/August, a time referred to as the canícula, then it stops again for several months between November and April. With any luck, I could time the harvests for late July, November, and March, obviously with experimentation as to what timing works best.

Finally, the good news is that handling dried beans on this scale doesn’t require much in the way of equipment. “Thrashing” in the home-garden way merely calls for a tarp and some able feet. The dried beans are laid out and walked on (or I’ve seen people here hitting them with sticks as well). For smaller harvest, it’s also possible to put them in a sack and either give it a good beating or a frisky tumble. The beans and debris are then separated by putting them into large bowls and winnowing out the unwanted elements, including wrinkly or infested legumes.

Storing

Jack Beans (Courtesy of Maren Barbee)

Obviously, the choicest beans should be saved for the next crop, which in my case of thrice yearly, might be immediately, practicing some sort of sensible rotation to avoid diseases and pests. The rest, for eating, can be kept in airtight containers and stored in a cool, dry place for up to a few years. If weevils or bug infestations are possible, and eaters aren’t too squeamish, thrifty growers suggest storing the beans in the freezer to eliminate loss of the crop during storage. Some would say it’s added protein.

Anyhow, I envision a mixed bunch, included red, black, white, pinto, mung, pigeon pea, lentils, chickpeas, cowpeas, and scarlet runners as ten varieties to try for drying. That should keep meals interesting, diverse, and healthy. No doubt, it’ll also help to keep the gardens rich with nitrogen, vibrant with flowers, and abundant with harvests. In essence, this is how I hope to harvest enough dry beans and other legumes to feed a family.

Feature Photo: Scarlet Runner Bean (Courtesy of Kristine Paulus)

We Love Growing Dry Beans, You Might Too!

Growing dry beans can be a fun & beautiful addition to the garden. If you have space, it is easy to produce homestead quantities of dry beans to feed your family. On a small farm scale growing dry beans can provide a profitable addition to the farmer’s market display. Conveniently, seed saving is the same as crop harvest for dry beans, which makes them a crop you only have to buy seed for once (unless you accidentally eat them all).

We sometimes sell a mix of bean varieties as a “Bean Party.” So pretty!

Here at Adaptive Seeds, we love to grow beans almost as much as we like to eat them (which is a lot). Producing them is a bit of a process but it’s pretty fun & you’re rewarded with piles of delicious, nutritious jewels at the end so it’s totally worth it.

As market growers, we were attracted to dry bean production because we saw a need for local staple food production – for food security as much as to fill a market niche – & soon discovered we could sell all of the beans we could produce. We also really like having dry beans fill a spot in our field rotations. In the past we have planted as many as 6 acres in dry beans, but it didn’t take us long to figure out that if we planted less acreage but took better care of it, we could have much higher yields & fewer headaches. Since we’ve shifted our focus to seed production, we have reduced our dry bean crop size further & now grow about ½ acre of beans per year, still selling some as food. Following is an assortment of tips & tricks for dry bean production, & details of our bean enterprise budget from 2014.

Planting

In our area (The Willamette Valley of Oregon), dry beans can be planted until the beginning of June, which means you still have some time to get a crop in the ground this season. Our goal is to sow our dry beans by mid-May, but we have successfully harvested earlier varieties (such as Early Warwick) from sowing as late as June 10.

Dry beans are sensitive to frost & need warm soil to germinate, so sowing earlier isn’t necessarily worth it. The real trick is getting the crop harvested before the rains come in September – for this reason, we choose varieties with shorter days-to-maturity. Some dry beans take as many as 110 days to mature, but the varieties we offer at Adaptive Seeds all mature in 95 days or less. This is true for both bush & pole types. For farm scale food production we prefer bush types, but pole types can be higher yielding in a smaller space. The information that follows is for bush types only.

A July 2 photo of a dry bean field that was seeded on May 18.

Growing

We have experimented with several regimes for fertility, plant spacing, & irrigation, & have concluded that the best way for us to grow bush dry beans is to grow them the same way we grow bush snap beans. Our dry beans get the same amount of fertility as our vegetable crops (we use 75# of 4-4-4 per 200′ bed). Our farm bed tops are 44” wide, and we sow 3 rows per bed spaced 1′ apart. We direct seed our dry beans with an Earthway® seeder, & don’t bother to thin them. The beans get about 1” of irrigation from overhead sprinklers per week, until August 1 when we cut off water to encourage the beans to dry down, with our goal to begin harvest by September 1. We used to inoculate our beans before planting but have stopped – it seems the bacteria exist in our soil at this point & it’s a bit of a hassle. If you’re new to growing beans &/or don’t use organic methods, we recommend inoculating beans before planting. We usually weed the beans three times during the season.

Harvest

Beans are ready to harvest when pods are dry but not split open & most of the leaves are yellow &/or dropping. It can be tricky to get the timing right because with most heirloom varieties not all pods ripen at the same time. It is usually better to harvest when most of the beans are ready than to wait for the last pods to dry down – if you wait this long you’ll likely lose more beans to shattering (when the pods open & beans fall out), than you will gain by waiting for those stragglers.

At harvest time we simply pull plants out by hand. This is a good task to do in the morning, as there will be some moisture on the plants & the pods are less prone to shattering than when harvested in the afternoon. We then shake / wipe the dirt off the roots (this is VERY important, as any dirt clods that make it onto your tarp will have to be picked out later), & toss whole plants onto smaller tarps (8′ x 10′) that we drag along behind us on the beds.

At the end of this process, we drag the tarps off the beds onto a much larger tarp or old shade cloth that’s on a farm road, & spread them out in the sun to dry for 2 – 3 days. We use tarps that are at least 20′ x 60′, but bigger is even better (depending on the size of your crop) – if you don’t have a tarp that large you can patchwork a few smaller ones together. Old shade cloth is much better than tarps for this purpose, because it is “self-healing” if stabbed by a pitchfork – & – perhaps more importantly – it’s porous, so if it rains or there is heavy dew, the water doesn’t pool under the beans.

Tires double as threshing equipment & seed dispersal mechanism.

Thresh

Threshing is next, & it’s where the fun begins. After the plants have dried down, & hopefully on a hot, dry afternoon, we drive on the beans to thresh them. Our farm truck is a 1992 Ford F150, but we’ve also used a Toyota pickup & seen videos of folks using tractors. The key to this step is to start on the outside of the pile with the driver’s side of the truck, & go back & forth slowly making your way across the pile until it’s all flat. I usually go side to side two times, then get out, stir / flip the beans with a pitchfork, & do it again. Two times through the process is usually enough. Of course if you’re doing a smaller quantity (or even a larger one & you’re up for it), you can thresh the old-fashioned way: by dancing. For medium-sized quantities, we throw some varieties through a modified wood chipper.

Once threshing is complete, it’s time to scalp the beans by raking plants into piles, picking the piles up with a pitchfork, & tossing the larger plant debris onto another tarp to haul to the compost pile (or you can just toss it aside). It’s good to give the pitchfork a good shake &/or toss the pile into the air & catch it again, to make sure all of the beans have fallen out. This is my favorite part. A slight breeze is helpful to this process – you’ll quickly learn which direction to work in if the wind is blowing. This can be a dusty job so you might want to wear a bandana or dust mask.

At the end of scalping, there will be smaller debris & lots of beans on the tarp. At this point you can do a quick field winnow using the breeze (with or without a screen) to remove the larger debris, or just gather the beans into your totes to take in & winnow later. The more you minimize plant material at this point the better – it may take a while to get around to the next step (you are a Farmer in September, after all) & you could save a few buckets worth of volume with a quick field winnow.

Sarah scalps beans after threshing to remove large plant debris

Winnow & Clean

The next step is to winnow. We use a box fan on its highest setting for beans, pouring the dirty beans in front of the fan so the rest of the plant material blows away. We recommend using a screen at this point to get out the large dirt clods & larger plant pieces, too. Most of the time each bean variety gets winnowed 2 to 3 times.

At the end of this process the beans are mostly clean. The only thing left to do is to pick out the dirt clods that are the same size as the beans. We do this step using an Anderson nursery flat as a tray, so the smaller pieces of dirt & tiny beans will screen out. This is where you will be happy that you removed the dirt from the plants at harvest.

The beans are now ready to store or sell. We store our cleaned beans in 4 gallon buckets & bag them up as needed for market. The great thing about growing beans for market is their shelf-life, as beans will last for years (though we recommend selling for food within 1 year of harvest). This, along with the financial numbers (below) makes them a good addition not only to autumn markets, but potentially winter & spring markets as well – if you can produce enough!

Totes of dry beans make excellent barn lounge furniture.

The Numbers

The following chart shows our direct costs for labor & inputs for about ½ acre of dry bean production in 2014. This is equivalent to 24 x 200′ beds (14,400 row feet). Eight varieties were sown – with variable germination. If all one variety, labor costs would be lower & with better germination yields could have been several hundred pounds higher.

In sum, we produced about 940 lbs of beans. In our market (Eugene, Oregon), these beans (all heirloom varieties & certified organic) would sell for $7/lb as food, but we have seen dry beans fetch up to $12/lb in Portland. After all labor (122 hours of bean-experienced labor @$15 per hr) & direct expenses (fertility, seed cost) were taken into account, the $7/lb price would result in a net profit of $3,891.75. This number does not include overhead & marketing expenses, but even then, it is a respectable bottom line – if you have extra space, dry beans are well worth the time!

Adaptive Seeds 2014 Dry Bean Production Detail

Adaptive Seeds 2014 Dry Bean Production Summary

Total Yield 944 lbs $6608 @$7/lb market rate (we’ve seen dry beans as much as $12/lb in other markets). Up to .3 lbs/ bed foot with good germination, as low as .19 lbs/ bed foot with low germination.
Expense Totals -$2716.25 From above –includes labor & inputs: fertility, field prep, seed cost, tractor & irrigation. Note: costs do not include overhead & marketing expenses, & assumes tarps, fan, totes & pitchfork are on hand.

Net Profit

Note: costs for overhead & marketing are not included.

Other considerations

Beans are sensitive to frost & to extreme heat – they’ll set fewer & smaller beans at 90˚F & abort at temperatures above 95˚F so they are not a good crop choice in areas with very hot summers. They are also sensitive to disease in humid areas, & in some places pests such as the Mexican Bean Beetle can be a serious issue (not here, though!).

Our soil is fairly heavy & retains moisture well. Sandier soils will probably need more irrigation BUT may not cling to roots at harvest for quicker harvest & processing times.

Dry beans need to be able to dry down in August & September. If it’s dependably rainy where you live, this is not the crop for you.

Beans must be dried to less than 15% moisture before storage or else they will mold. If harvested when mature & cleaned in a dry period, no extra drying is necessary, but sometimes we run beans through a dehydrator set to 90˚F for 24 hrs before storing.

Grow and Save Lima Bean Seeds

How to Grow Lima Beans

While different than the common bean, lima beans have a similar growing habit. Some lima beans are vining crops that need to be trellised while other varieties have a bush habit that allows them to be planted without support.

Time of Planting

Like other beans, it is easy to directly sow lima beans outside after the danger of frost has passed.

Spacing Requirements

Plant seeds 1” deep and 2” apart. Plant in rows 24-36” apart.

Time to Germination

7-18 days

Special Considerations

Some lima beans have a climbing habit and will require trellising. Others, however, are bush beans that do not need much support. Know the growing habit of your bean before planting it in your garden.

Common Pests and Diseases

Lima beans can be affected by a number of diseases. Some of these diseases can remain in the soil for several years, so grow your beans in different areas of the garden each year. To prevent the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases among plants, avoid working in your bean patch when the foliage is wet. The best way to get rid of beetles and bugs that might eat the leaves of your plants is to pick them off and toss them into a jar of soapy water. Promptly cut down and compost plants that are past their prime to interrupt the life cycles of pests and diseases.

When and How to Harvest

Lima beans can be harvested in the the shelling stage or the dry stage. Shelling limas are ready for harvest after the pod has changed color and the beans have plumped, but before the pods and seeds have dried. Dry lima beans are ready for harvest when the pods are dry and brittle and the seeds inside are hard.

Eating

Lima beans can be harvested early, as baby limas, or as fully mature dry beans. Baby limas are a great addition to dishes such as succotash and stir fries. Mature lima beans, sometimes called butter beans, possess the versatility of dry beans and can be used for stews, soups, pasta dishes, and more.

Try to use fresh lima beans within several days of their harvest. Dry lima beans will last for years in storage.

How to Save Lima Bean Seeds

Life Cycle

Annual

Recommended Isolation Distance

When saving seeds from lima beans, separate varieties by 160-500 feet.

Recommended Population Sizes

Viable seed can be harvested from a single plant. To maintain a variety over time, save seeds from between 10-25 plants.

Harvest the lima bean seeds when they are very hard and their pods are dry and brittle. If the lima bean pods are not completely dry before the first frost, pull the plants up and dry them further indoors.

Cleaning and Processing

When the lima bean pods are completely dry, break them open to release the seeds. Separate the seeds from the chaff—other plant material like stems, pods, leaves, as well as dirt. If you are saving a large number of lima bean seeds, you can thresh and winnow the pods to separate the seeds and chaff.

Storage and Viability

Store lima beans in a cool, dark, and dry place and always keep them in an airtight container to keep out moisture and humidity. When stored under these conditions, lima beans will remain viable for 5-10 years.

Speckled Brown Butterbean (Bush)

The Speckled Brown Butterbean is a plump and creamy bean, with a mild earthy flavor that satisfies the soul on cold winter evenings or on any bright summer day. The beautiful tan bean, when mature, sports mocha colored streaks and freckles that melt into a smooth light brown bean when cooked. Speckled Brown Butterbeans are a traditional delicacy in much of the American South and nowhere more so than in Mississippi. In Mississippi these beans are generally cooked fresh shelled or fresh frozen usually with hamhock or other pork, butter, a chopped onion, garlic and salted when finished. For dried beans, pre-soak in cold water at least 4 hours. In our house, we substitute butter, olive or palm oil, and sweet smoked paprika for a delightful meal. Serve with cornbread or rice.

Our Speckled Brown Butterbeans are bush beans, hardy to zone 7 and mature in 65-70 days. Plants set pods when day temperatures are reliably 85 degrees or more. Pole varieties take longer, between 80 to 100 days, depending on consistent hot days. The pods, grass green and thick, are similar in appearance to most Lima beans though they are smaller containing between three to four seeds that ripen from pale green to speckled brown.

This species is originally from South America, hence the name “Lima.” In much of the South, these beans are referred to generally as Butterbeans. Each cultural region of the South boasts it’s own favorite though in Mississippi the Speckled Brown reigns over all legumes. This variety, of unknown origins, has been grown and eaten in Mississippi since before God remembers. We received the seed stock earlier this year from Duck and Earl of Shaw, MS. Duck is the sister of Sankofa Farm friend and community elder Ms. Pearl Trotter.

Days to Maturity: 65-70

Seeds per pack: 32

Planting / harvesting notes

Plant in warm soil at least a couple weeks after the last danger of frost has passed. Sow directly in the ground at a depth of one inch, spaced every few inches in rows 12 inches apart. Thin to one plant every four to six inches.

Seed keeping notes

Lima beans are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of P. lunatus by at least 150 feet to avoid unwanted cross-pollination from flying insects. For seed saving, harvest the beans when their shells have become dried and crispy on the plants. Lay out the pods in a dry, sunny place to dry down further. Shell the beans and lay out the seeds in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight for at least another few days to a week before storing for next year.

Additional search terms: Brown Speckled Butter Beans, Brown Speckled Butterbeans.

How to Grow and Cook Haricot Verts

by Arlene Wright-Correll
Home Farm Herbery

At Home Farm Herbery we love these Organic Maxibel Haricot Vert Beans!
Haricots Vert is French for green beans and is a French variety of green beans. This is the most popular French filet bean and unsurpassed as a gourmet market specialty.
Fancied for their slimmer, more delicate profile, these highly coveted, stringless filet beans can often prove more costly so this is one good reason to plant some plus they are a good money maker if you do the farmers market gig!

It is known for its long, slender, medium green pods with a delicate tenderness. This bean is a heavy producer of 6-8” beans on good sized plants. Maxibel will keep you loaded with fresh beans for a good amount of time. Pick frequently for optimal tenderness and yields.
If you have never tried these you do not know what you are missing!
Haricot verts produce long, thin, tender pods and must be picked every day or they will become tough and stringy. Only a few plants will provide tons of beans for a family of 4.

Haricot verts, or French filet beans, produce slender yet flavorful pods suitable for fresh use or cooked dishes. Like most beans, haricot verts require warm, sunny weather and can’t tolerate a freeze. Pole varieties require a support for the vines to climb, while shorter bush types grow no more than 2 feet tall and require no supports. Sow haricot verts directly in the garden bed in early summer once frost danger passes and the soil temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
I recommend you install a trellis if you are growing a pole haricot vert variety. Simply place a 6-foot tall stake at each end of the bean row and stretch some bean netting between the two. In lieu of that option just tie the tops of four poles together and spread the legs apart to make a bean teepee and the pole haricot verts will simply climb up.
When you sow the seeds sow them 1 inch deep and space pole varieties 2 inches apart along the base of the trellis netting or plant three seeds around each leg of the teepee.
When planting Haricot vert bush types plant the seeds 4 inches apart in rows set 8 to 12 inches apart.
Water once or twice weekly so the top 6 inches of soil remains moist. Haricot verts require approximately 1 inch of water a week.
Harvest haricot verts when the pods are pencil thick but still tender and green. Harvest daily once beans begin maturing to encourage further production on the plant and you will easily get a bumper crop.
We love them simply steamed for 8 to 10 minutes.
But you can do lots of things to them.
Here is a good recipe for Haricot Verts String Bean Stew
This is a very tasty meal to enjoy on a cold winter’s eve. We eat it with just a nice warm baguette or boule and it is a very satisfying meal. You can add leftover meatloaf or meatballs to make it a more substantial meal. The French beans (Haricots Verts) are the best.

String Bean Stew
Ingredients
2 lbs of fresh green beans (tips cut and strings removed)
1 lb of baby Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and sliced) and sometimes we use really small ones and just leave the whole and with the skins on them.
2 shallots or one small onion thinly sliced
2 cups of vegetable stock
½ cup of lardoons (small pieces of slab bacon with much of the fat trimmed off)
3 cans of stewed tomatoes or the equivalent if you are using your own canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Recipe Directions
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook onion for 2-3 minutes or until onion is tender but not brown. Add the lardoons and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the beans and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the juice from the cans of stewed tomatoes. Use a food processor to mash up the tomatoes and add them to the stew. Add the vegetable stock, bring to boil. Add the sliced potatoes. Simmer over low heat, stirring from time to time for 50 minutes or until beans and potatoes are cooked (add water if necessary).
Barley and Corn Salad with Arugula and Haricot Vert

Serves 4
1/3 cup pearl barley
1/2 pound haricot vert (slim green beans) trimmed and cut into 2? segments
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 1 large ear)
1 large bunch of arugula (about 4 ounces total)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), crumbled
Cook barley in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain; cool. Transfer to large bowl.
Cook haricot vert in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, NO MORE than 3 minutes. Drain. Transfer beans to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. Transfer to bowl with barley. Mix in corn kernels. Coarsely chop washed and dried arugula; add to bowl with barley mixture.
Whisk olive oil, vinegar, shallots, thyme and Dijon mustard in small bowl to blend. Pour enough dressing over barley mixture to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve alongside any remaining dressing.
Haricots Verts Stir-Fry with Szechuan pepper Salt is one of our favorites in the Home Farm Herbery Kitchen.

Serves 6
30 minutes or fewer
Crisp-tender thin green beans add a touch of elegance to a basic stir-fry. To give the dish a salty-spicy crunch, use more Szechuan Pepper Salt.
1 lb. extra-thin green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 cups mung bean sprouts (4 oz.)
6 green onions, thinly sliced on bias
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 ½ Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 ¼ tsp. Szechuan pepper Salt
1. Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain, and dunk in large bowl of cold water. Drain again, and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Heat oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and stir-fry 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate with slotted spoon to drain.
3. Add garlic and ginger to wok, and sauté 30 seconds, or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Add green beans, bean sprouts, and green onions, and stir-fry 1 minute, or until green beans begin to brown. Add tofu, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Szechuan Pepper Salt, and toss to coat.
Or simply tried them sautéed in a little olive oil with Merlot Sea Salt and Lemon Pepper both of which are available at our Home Farm Herbery on-line store. We even offer a Salt Free Lemon Pepper.

You can find these seeds to plant this year in your garden at our on-line store.
In the meantime.. let the Creative Force be with you

Arlene Wright-Correll Posted by Arlene @ 10:55 PM CDT

How to Grow Pinto Beans | Guide to Growing Pinto Beans

Harvesting Guide
HARVESTING
Harvesting beans is an ongoing process. You can start to harvest anytime, but gardeners usually wait until the beans begin to firm up and can be snapped. They are generally about as think as a pencil then. Don’t wait too long, because beans can become overgrown and tough almost overnight. Harvest by gently pulling each bean from the vine or by snapping off the vine end, if you are going to be using the beans right away.

Depending on whether the bean is a snap, shell, or dry variety will impact when and how the bean should be harvested.

Snap beans are harvested while the pod and enclosed seeds are still relatively immature. Compared to the other two types of beans, snap beans have the smallest window for an ideal crop. Beans that are harvested too early will not develop the proper flavor and texture. On the other hand, beans that are allowed to develop on the plant too long will be tough and somewhat unpalatable. Perhaps the best simple indicator for snap beans is the diameter of the pods. Generally, most varieties will yield the best snap beans with a diameter between ⅛-1/4″. Maybe the best way to determine suitability for harvest is to sample a pod or two before making a complete harvest. It is worth noting that many varieties of snap beans that are allowed to develop completely also make good dry beans.

Shell beans are harvested at a later time than snap beans, once the pods have started to fill out and the enclosed seeds developing inside are apparent. Beans of such varieties are removed from pods and are often eaten fresh, but are sometimes dried.

Dry beans are not harvested until the pods and enclosed seeds have reached complete maturity, and will often require threshing to remove extraneous pod material. When growing dry beans, it is especially important that growing plants have plenty of space and ventilation so that pods will dry out. If experiencing a spell of rain late in the season once pods have matured, plants can be removed from ground and hung upside down indoors to allow dessication to continue.

SAVING SEEDS

It is a suggested that you earmark a couple of plants at the beginning of the season for seed saving. Don’t pick ANY pods from them to eat – just pick the crisp brown pods at the end of the season. Don’t feed them, or water them unless it is very dry – as this can encourage leafy growth rather than pod development. There is no point in picking green pods as the seeds are not mature enough at this stage.

Did you know you can save the roots, overwinter in a frost-free place, and replant next year? Runner beans are perennial, but are frost sensitive, so die back in our climate. However, if the roots are dug up and kept in suitable conditions, the plants often get away early and crop faster. If you grow a lot of beans, this may not be a practical option, but you could try it with one or two plants perhaps. Store the roots in a frost-free place, buried in slightly moist sand or leafmould, or something similar.

Kidney beans

Native to the Americas, kidney beans are so called because of their shape and come in very many sizes and colours, from ivory-white to blood-red and black. Although differing a little in flavour and looks, they are often interchangeable in recipes.

Red kidney beans are poisonous if not boiled furiously for 20 minutes during their initial cooking. The problem with kidney beans of all colours is that they cause wind. This can be lessened in two ways: first, by introducing kidney beans meagrely and slowly into your diet, then eating them regularly (the gut will eventually adjust and not react badly). The other preventive is equally important; dried kidney beans must be soaked to hydrate them before cooking. The secret is never, ever, to cook them in the water in which they have been soaked but to drain and then to rinse them well before putting into fresh water. The soaking water has absorbed much of the ingredient that upsets the gut.

Availability

Canned pre-cooked beans are often more easily available than dried varieties. These are a very good choice for cooking with, saving hours of care, but should always be drained and rinsed before use.

Choose the best

Dried kidney beans of all kinds should be whole and shiny. Long storage makes them prone to insect intrusion, so if buying in bulk inspect carefully. Pre-packed dried beans are usually more reliable.

Canned pre-cooked kidney beans present no problems. Some come packed in water, which is thickened by starches naturally produced by the beans, but it can also contain preservatives, so this should be rinsed away.

Store it

Dried beans last for years if kept in a dry, dark place, safe from pests. Canned cooked beans last as long and should be a basic in every storecupboard.

Cook it

Dried beans should be soaked overnight. If you don’t have much time, start them in hot water and then four to five hours should be enough. Throw away the soaking water (see introduction) when the beans are plump and slightly softer and the skins are no longer wrinkled. Rinse them well. They must be cooked in water – without salt – before adding to any other dish, even for recipes such as baked beans or stews with tomato and especially, salty bacon. Only then do they get the additional slow cooking that allows them to absorb other flavours. It’s common in some dishes to cook them until they disintegrate, making a thicker, emulsified sauce.

Canned beans can be drained, rinsed and then used at once with other ingredients, including salt, immediately.

All kidney beans once cooked can be enjoyed cold in salads or made into purées with the addition of oil and served as a dip. Red kidney beans are often associated with chilli con carne.

See our step-by-step guide on how to make chilli con carne.

The European market potential for common dry beans

Spain: common beans as traditional food

Spain is an important consumer of common beans and one of the main producing countries in Europe, yet most of its supply is imported. Exporters of both white and red kidney beans have potential opportunities in Spain, thanks to the country’s cuisine, much like in Italy and the UK.

Spaniards consumer white and red kidney beans generally in stews or salads. Spain has typical local varieties, such as caparrón, a red kidney bean variety, but imported kidney beans are widely available as well.

Legumes are a fundamental part of a traditional diet in Spain, one of the largest consumers of pulses in Europe. Approximately 29% of Spain’s pulse consumption consists of beans, slightly less than chickpeas and lentils. Nevertheless, changing consumer habits have decreased consumption of dry beans in favour of canned beans; their volumes became similar in 2016-2017.

Pulses continue to play an important role in traditional Spanish food, making Spain one of the main producing countries in Europe. Irrigated cultivation supports 60% of Spain’s dry beans production, which is therefore more stable than chickpeas and lentils. Kidney beans and common dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) productions increased to 19.7 thousand tonnes in 2017, twice the volume of 2012. But this volume is still much too low to fulfil the demand in Spain.

The dependence on external supply is significant: more than 50% of the demand for pulses and even two-thirds of the demand for dry beans. This scenario will continue to provide a market for exporters, although the demand is shifting gradually towards the canning industry.

Kidney bean exporters from Latin America, such as those from Argentina and Bolivia, have an advantage due to a shared language and historic trade ties with Spain, their most significant European market.

Tip:

  • Spain is a traditional market, so try to present beans to Spanish buyers which are similar to the beans Spanish consumers are used to. Look into some of the Spanish local varieties on Mundosabor.es (in Spanish).

Portugal: imports replace local production

Portugal is a traditional consumer of kidney beans and Europe’s fourth-largest importer. Portuguese demand for affordable beans will continue, meaning there are especially opportunities for price competitive suppliers.

Common beans, such as red kidney beans, are the most popular pulse for consumption in Portugal, where they are used in traditional stew dishes, such as feijoada, rice dishes (arroz de feijão) and soup. At an annual 4 kg of pulses per person, Portuguese per capita consumption is well above the European average.

In Portugal, local production has been replaced with imports. For the past five, years Portuguese kidney beans imports have varied between 30 and 40 thousand tonnes. In spite of Portugal having extensive genetic bean resources, it will take time to revalue and increase cultivation again.

Compared to other European markets, Portuguese import value of kidney beans is relatively low in relation to its volume. Portugal’s calculated import value was €0.75 per kg in 2018, while the European average was €0.9 per kg.

France: Number one in bean-based product launches

France is among the top importers of common dry beans in Europe. French consumers have a general preference for locally produced pulses, but active promotion of pulses and bean-based product development will benefit consumption growth and keep demand up for quality foreign supply.

Recent data into the French market indicates that more than 85% of French consumers do not eat the recommended amount of lentils and pulses. This may change after the French National Health and Nutrition Programme (PNNS in French) endorsed consumption of pulses, recommending consumers to eat legumes and pulses at least twice a week.

National promotion of pulses are a welcome helping hand to the new products being introduced in French market. France performs extremely well in product development, launching 217 new bean-based products between 2010 and 2014. This was more than any other European country, including other important consuming countries, such as the United Kingdom (199 product launches) and Spain (145 product launches).

Interest in using beans as ingredients is strong in France, but according to buyers, demand is stronger for locally produced and organic pulses. France produces typical local beans such as flageolets, but also a minor volume of white and dark red kidney beans. However, much of the needed volume, especially kidney beans, has to come from abroad. As an exporter, keep in mind that the French market favours quality over quantity.

  • When targeting the French market try standing out on quality, for example, supplying certified organic beans.

Eastern Europe: Bulgaria and neighbouring markets

Pulses are part of the food culture in many Eastern European countries. Bulgaria offers good opportunities for common dry beans, but you can find similarities throughout the region. Eastern Europe’s markets are slowly diversifying in terms of suppliers and imported products, but developing local production could play an important role for future export opportunities to these countries.

With an import volume of 19 thousand tonnes in 2018, Bulgaria is the leader in importing common dry beans in the central and eastern parts of Europe. Current consumption figures are not available, but for dry beans they are expected to be similar to the 4.5 kg to 4.9 kg per capita of previous years (2010–2013). Unlike many buyers in Western Europe, Bulgarian buyers gets most of their non-EU supply from Egypt and Kyrgyzstan. Compared to Western Europe, consumers in Eastern Europe may be more conservative and price conscious, but the region is slowly developing towards a more diverse pulse market.

When supplying to Bulgaria, you should also consider exporting to the following nearby markets, which import the following volumes from non-EU origins:

  • Romania: 15 thousand tonnes
  • Hungary: 7.6 thousand tonnes
  • Poland: 5.8 thousand tonnes
  • Czech Republic: 3.5 thousand tonnes

Production volumes of dry beans in Eastern Europe have increased significantly between 2014 and 2017, especially in the Baltic countries, between 268% and 496%, Bulgaria (162%), Poland (30%) and Hungary (20%), taking advantage of the new Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP) greening measures (see trends below). Most dry bean production in Eastern Europe is aimed at cheap fava beans for animal feed, but smaller volumes of kidney beans could mean less need for import.

The traders: Netherlands and Belgium

There is not a typical trade hub for common beans in Europe, as most dry beans are imported directly. But to reach niche markets, you should focus on the countries that are known for their re-exporting capacity.

The Netherlands and Belgium are traditionally important re-exporters, often to large neighbouring markets, such as Germany and France. But kidney beans are not in high demand in Germany and they also tend to be shipped directly to their end markets. Still, in some cases, these trade hubs can be interesting for you as an exporter, for example, for more exotic bean varieties with smaller demand.

Belgium and the Netherlands are in the top ten of dry common bean importers in Europe. In 2018, the Netherlands had the largest European surplus export value, re-exporting the most kidney beans in Europe.

  • Focus on trading companies in the Netherlands and Belgium to reach potential markets and buyers that you would find difficult to supply to directly. Many of these companies can be found on international trade fairs.

4 . What trends create opportunities or risks in the European common dry beans market?

Bean protein and health claims further promoted

Plant protein and their associated health claims will play an important role for the future growth of beans in Europe. To benefit from the interest in the health benefits of beans, you must pay attention to the quality of your production process and consider organic certification.

Beans are coming back as a source of protein for vegans and flexitarians who eat little meat. The high protein content is among the most important health claims of beans and pulses, a quality that is increasingly included in the presentation of new pulse products. The United Kingdom plays a leading role in vegan product launches, such as Quorn mince.

Other claims related to consumer interest in healthy and natural food include high-fibre content, gluten-free, preservative-free, additive-free and organic. China is the most important supplier of organic beans, but the increasing dependence on China and growing concerns of non-compliance with organic standards make buyers look for alternatives. Supplying clean, pesticide-free or organic beans is a good way to compete with traditional suppliers.

Tips:

  • Make sure your product lives up to the expectations of a healthy product. Use high-quality seeds and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for the cultivation of common dry beans for the health food market.
  • Find opportunities in the ingredients market and at the Fi Food ingredients trade fair when you are able to supply high-quality bean protein or other sub-products.

New forms of convenience make common beans attractive

Canned beans have taken over a large part of the dried beans’ consumption. But there is also the need to make beans more attractive in easy-to-use products. Connecting to the bean processing industry can be a good next step for experienced exporters.

European consumers increasingly value good food, but convenience plays a large role in purchase decisions too. Dry beans are considered traditional and time-consuming to prepare. The canning industry has made bean preparation easier and nowadays canned beans have taken over a large part of the bean consumption, even in traditional bean consuming countries in the Mediterranean area.

Although canned beans are well established, it does not always fit with consumer perception of fresh and attractive food. Bean brands now face the challenge of making convenient attractive again. The food industry addresses the issue by using pre-cooked beans in fresh ready-made meals, salads and product mixes, and introducing new forms of packaging or preparation methods. Microwaveable and environmental packaging were important features in new bean-based product launches in previous years (2010-2014).

Northern European countries have most interest in new convenience concepts. For example, Dutch company Hak introduced a successful range of beans and bean mixes in standing pouches. Other companies are expected to follow and even exporters in developing countries have developed similar ideas. For example, Kyaru International, a bean exporter from Tanzania, markets pre-cooked, farm fresh beans in standing pouches.

However, for small, non-European companies it will be a challenge to sell convenience beans in Europe due to the well-established processors and brands that are already present. Your best chance is to build relations with these brands and bean processing companies, or with the European traders that supply them.

  • Read more about processed food in the CBI study on canned fruit and vegetables.
  • Keep up to date on new food trends in Europe by visiting news sites, such as FoodNavigator, Organic & Wellness News and Food Manufacture.

Ethnic and traditional food on the rise

The integration of food cultures creates a diverse demand for beans. The wider adoption of traditional bean dishes can be an opportunity for exporters, but it also means you must match your bean variety to specific target groups and end users.

Ethnic populations as well as local traditional dishes are important drivers for the consumption of common dry beans. With the increasing integration of different nationalities, European consumers are growing more exposed to transnational dishes with beans. Examples are:

  • Feijoada, a black bean dish from Brazil;
  • Rajma, a spicy stew from India;
  • Caparrones, a bean stew with chorizo from Spain;
  • Mexican chili con carne;
  • Italian minestrone soup with Berlotti beans.

The introduction of traditional cuisines can help boost the consumption of specific kidney bean varieties in your assortment. Characteristics such as taste, colour, size and single variety (not mixed) can be important for specific traditional niches. But traditional, high-quality bean varieties can always fetch a premium price as more sophisticated consumers are willing to pay for a quality product.

In the commercial interpretation of ethnic food and recipes for the masses, specific beans are sometimes replaced with beans that are cheaper and more widely available in a specific region. For example, caparrones or berlotti beans can be replaced with light red kidney beans.

Agricultural reforms stimulate pulse production in Europe

The European Union has given priority to the production of protein crops that contribute to sustainable agriculture. This development increases the local bean production, which can be both a risk and an opportunity for exporters, as it could reduce bean imports, but also re-evaluates the importance of pulses in Europe.

The new Common Agricultural Policy’s (CAP) greening measures encourages the production of pulses in Europe. The reasoning behind this policy relates to:

  • the role of legumes in proper soil management;
  • the nutritional importance of pulses;
  • the reduction of the dependence on non-European suppliers.

Many countries have supported the protein crop sector with voluntary support and direct payments from the European Union. Farmers have responded by sowing larger areas with dry pulses. In reality, it has worked out most in the fava bean production. You can also expect other local bean varieties to increase in production, but the negative effect on imports could easily be compensated by the extra attention and re-evaluation of beans as a nutritious food. These influences will last at least until the end of the policy in 2020.

  • Check our study about the trends in the European grains and pulses market for more information on which trends offer the best opportunities for dry beans.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by ICI Business.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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