Kathryn Fontenot, Singh, Raghuwinder, Strahan, Ronald E., Koske, Thomas J., Brown, Sebe, Morgan, Alan L., Sexton, Mary
The lima bean, also called butter bean, is a warm-season crop that is well-adapted to Louisiana’s climate. The large seeded types were developed in South America and received the name “lima” from the capital city of Peru. Lima beans are a nutritious vegetable – high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and the vitamins thiamine and niacin.
In Louisiana, lima beans are planted in both the spring and fall. Spring crops are planted well after frost danger has passed. The soils should be 60°F or warmer. These conditions are found in mid- to late March in south Louisiana and mid- to late April in north Louisiana. Plantings can be made through mid-May in most of the state. Plantings made much later than this yield poorly because high temperatures interfere with pod set. Fall crops are planted beginning in early August in north Louisiana and through mid-August in south Louisiana.
You can choose either the bush or pole beans. Pole beans mature later but produce higher yields and produce for a longer period than bush types. For small gardens, consider pole types. They produce the largest yield per square foot and generally have fewer disease problems because of their tall form. Small seeded lima varieties called “butter beans” are best for the South.
Recommended pole lima beans include Florida Speckled, King of the Garden, Christmas or Willow Leaf. Good bush lima beans for Louisiana include Henderson Bush, Eastland, Jackson Wonder, Thorogreen, and Dixie Speckled Butterpea.
The original snap beans were grown for their dry or green shelled seed. Breeding advances gave us the “string bean” before being further developed into today’s high quality snap bean. Although not as nutritious as the lima bean, snap beans are a well-balanced, low calorie food.
For a continuous harvest of fresh beans, make plantings about two weeks apart until mid-May. Plant bush snap beans again in mid- to late August for a fall harvest. Quality is usually excellent in the fall.
Good bush snaps for Louisiana are Contender, Strike, Provider, Bush Blue Lake 274, Ambra, Bronco, Caprice, Dusky, Lynx, Magnum, Storm and Valentino.
All-America Selections include Blue Lake 274, Derby, Greencrop (flat) and Burpee Tenderpod (heirloom). Roma II is a flat Italian bush bean. For a purple pod, bush snap, try Royal Burgundy. Those who prefer the yellow wax bush beans should choose Carson, Cherokee Wax (AAS), and Golden Rod.
For pole snap beans, choose Kentucky Blue (AAS), and McCaslan. For pole beans with striped pods, select Rattlesnake.
For those who want a bean that sets well in the heat, try the vigorous Yardlong Asparagus Bean. Harvest these pods when they are 18 inches long or less.
Minor beans or beanlike crops may also be grown in Louisiana. If beans are to be shelled green or dry, choose the large seeded horticultural beans for best results. These beans were developed for harvest of their seed. They often have large and striped or mottled pods. Most horticultural beans are bush types, but pole types are also available. Culture is similar to that of snap beans. Vegetable soybeans (edamame) have been bred for a higher eating quality than the field soybeans. Shell in the mature green stage. Green pods will shell much easier if they are blanched for two minutes. Culture is similar to that of lima beans.
Fava beans are a cool-season crop requiring several months from planting to harvest. The plants are tall and slender, producing a fairly woody stem. The long, broad, glossy green pods are snapped and eaten green or allowed to dry for shelling and storage. Fava beans are planted in October and November and harvested in March and April of the next year. Seeds are planted 3 to 4 inches apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart.
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