Runner Beans awful this year?

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by jazzy, Aug 16, 2021.

  1. jazzy

    jazzy Gardener

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    I have been growing runner beans for a few years. This year the beans have been awful. This year's crop I started picking them for around 2 or 3 weeks, they are growing, knobbly and tough like end of season runner beans. What would cause this? Is it to do with the weather because the beans are late this year?
     
  2. JWK

    JWK Gardener Staff Member

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    The weather here, wet and overcast seems to have suited them. We have been picking a good crop, probably the best I've ever managed. Where are you and have you had similar weather?
     
  3. Janet mahay

    Janet mahay Gardener

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    hi jazzy my dad loved and planted runner and broad beans every year i am not all that keen
    but the quality of bean seeds being planted may be the culpit as bean seeds do have a short shelf life so try planting good quality seeds ,
    the weather plays a large part in the end result of bean yield and quality. Overly hot temperatures as beans are forming may engender a degree of toughness. High temps interfere with pollination and adequate irrigation, which affects the bean crop as a whole. Plant beans, allowing adequate time for maturation before temperatures become excessively hot and keep the bean plants watered rainy weather shouldnt effect them
    Also ., if you are routinely planting your beans in the same garden area, you may want to rotate because you may be depleting the soil of necessary nutrients that the beans need to form tender, delicate pods. A green manure planted between seedlings and then roto tilled back into the soil prior to spring planting does wonders
     
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    • shiney

      shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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      I grow and sell runner beans (my favourite veg) and can echo the previous posts. Although it is recommended to rotate crops it also depends on your soil and practicalities of where you can grow them.

      As they grow big so quickly they need well composted/manured soil and lots of water. It was not the best start to the season here because of dryness and heat as they don't like it too hot. A lot of people think that they like hot weather as they originate in in Central America (Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras etc.) but they only grow them in the mountains around 6,000ft up.

      I have been growing my beans in the same spot for 50 years but the clay soil is very fertile and I add lots of home made compost every year.

      The dry and hot weather we had earlier this year did not do the plants any favour and I was giving them a lot of water. As I grow so many I need to use a sprinkler for them and it needs to be on them for a long time because it gives a fine spray over a large area. They get four hours at a time. When watering them you need to give them a heavy watering two or three times a week rather than a light watering every day. This also encourages the roots to go deeper into the soil where the water is absorbed and it strengthens the plants.

      I know we have had a lot of rain recently but, here, we haven't had any significant rain for well over a week. So yesterday I had to put the sprinkler on and it was on them for seven hours (forgot to turn it off :doh:). I should have watered them sooner and I can notice a bit of dry stress (going knobbly) in some of the plants.

      Hopefully, with plenty of water, they will improve. Pick off all the beans that have gone knobbly otherwise the plant may think it has reached the end of the season and is time to go to seed.

      Always remember that they like well composted soil and plenty of water. The composting is better done in the Autumn.
       
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      • JWK

        JWK Gardener Staff Member

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        I grow mine in the same space every year but try and swap the soil with adjacent beds to stop the buildup of pests and diseases. My soil is very hungry thin chalk so as well as incorporating home made compost in the winter I have to give them a weekly feed, something with high potash to encourage flowering. I make comfrey tea for that purpose but any tomato type fertiliser would do, such as seaweed extract. I have an automatic watering system, porous hosepipe on a timer connected to the mains, my soil dries out very quickly otherwise.
        Once a bean crop is stressed by lack of water it will suffer for weeks.
         
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        • pete

          pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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          I'm just wondering if short knobbly pods are down to poor pollination.
           
        • shiney

          shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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          Is that the same reason for my legs?
           
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          • Scrungee

            Scrungee Well known for it

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            My runners have done really well this year.

            They were planted in homemade compost, plus had some old bags of well rotted duck poo bedding straw dug in, watered well during hot weather and regulary fed with liquid tomato fertilizer. They are up 8 foot/2.4m canes but would have gone much higher.

            Picked half a rucksack full this morning and that was only from one side, plus I've let about 50 of the best pods go to seed (anything over 20" long is reserved for seed saving) and that should be slowing them down a bit.
             
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            • shiney

              shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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              I've found it has greatly depended on the variety of seed I have used. Polestar (normally a good grower in all conditions) had poor germination (60%) and not produced very well. White Lady (another good one for most conditions) 70% germination and very slow to give beans and Firestorm which gave over 95% germination and has been the best producer this year. Firestorm is a runner that has been crossed with a French and produces pickable beans a week or two before the others, copes with a variety of weathers, still has the runner tall growing habit but doesn't produce as quite as long a bean.

              All the varieties have grown to the usual 14ft or more (I train them horizontally once they have reached 7-8ft.

              French beans have been more problematic this season. Blue Lake, normally an excellent grower, have been dire. No more than 30% germination and virtually no cropping. The few yellow ones we're trialling for Which? have been tasty but not worth growing according to the yield but may still use them again next year to give them another chance. Bridgewater are a great success with 100% germination, early cropping and very heavy. 14 plants are giving close to 2lb a day.
               
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              • JR

                JR Chilled Gardener

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                Fully agree with Shiney re variety. I started some 'prize winners' which gave 95% germination, 'mergoles' also very strong.. I'm getting great yields from those two.
                The 'stardust' seeds i tried were terrible, I'd estimate around a 10% germination rate.
                Good info on the 'firestorm' I'll make a note of that one.
                 
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                • Scrungee

                  Scrungee Well known for it

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                  I set out my new plot (which has mains water) with a 7m long runner bean area, the plan being that I could use a 15m long leaky hose in either a loop or cut into 2 branches with stop ends, but not having used them before has more of a memory than I anticipated, wanting to coil back up again, leaving me wondering whether to try and secure it in straight runs, or use it like a huge stretched spring.
                   
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                  • jazzy

                    jazzy Gardener

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                    Thanks for all of the replies. I am suspecting that the cause is down to the use of poor quality bean seeds. This year I used Wilkinson's brand Scarlet Emperor bean seeds, first time I used these and I was under the impression that beans seeds are all the same, never mind I will not make that mistake next year.
                    Plenty of flowers with this years crop and lots of bees around, soil quality is also good and I regularly add fresh compost.
                     
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                    • Scrungee

                      Scrungee Well known for it

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                      I've always found my own (non-F1) saved bean seeds are far superior to anything bought, and germination is almost 100%, but I don't leave it to the end of season before thinking about letting any go to seed and devote some plants (normally at ends of rows and around this time of year) entirely for seed saving to ensure they have sufficient time to fully develop and dry out before the cold, wet weather in October.
                       
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                      • JWK

                        JWK Gardener Staff Member

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                        The quality of those porous pipes varies, I bought some cheaper stuff which was useless, one or two massive holes that I gaffer taped up and it kinked. I have more expensive stuff now which was a pain to install, had to pin it down as I unfurled. In the greenhouse it was a job that couldn't be done with tomatoes already planted as the pipe has a mind of its own and flips about. It does settle into position after a few hot sunny days - fat chance of seeing any of those for a while.
                         
                      • Scrungee

                        Scrungee Well known for it

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                        I haven't installed the cheap stuff amongst my beans yet as I bought it after they were up the canes. I was thinking of 'pinning' it down with U shaped pieces of heavy duty fencing straining wire, or securing to timber pegs driven into the ground.

                        Next year I hope to plant both my polytunnel toms and perhaps my outdoor bush toms through Mypex with leaky hose underneath it, that should be fun, but will cut down on splashing of leaves and on time spent watering.
                         
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