Bush vs pole beans for yield

allenwrenchSeptember 5, 2008

Do pole beans offer a higher yield than the bush variety?

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tcstoehr

I have to say pole beans both begin and end production later than bush beans. And produce continuously during that time, easily overtaking the bush beans in total production. But it is a much larger plant after all.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 11:52AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Yes but....they need something to climb on. I plant both. I use bush beans to add nitrogen to the larger beds, then harvest, uproot, and plant something else. As tcstoehr mentioned, pole beans will hang around with you a bit longer, I think they look prettier climbing overt stuff, and they keep on producing. However, not all planting sites that need beans are suitable for pole beans. Besides, I like to sprout my pantry, and pantry beans only come in the bush variety.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 12:57PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Overall higher yield - probably pole beans. But it is scattered and very slow so it takes lots of plants to get enough at any one time to process if that is your goal.

Bush beans put out much better production in a useful time period and if you stagger your plantings you can get almost continuous production and more in the long run. Plus they are MUCH easier to pick!

Dave

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 3:49PM
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calliope(6)

I feel the same way. Pole beans are romantic and charming in a garden, but I can and preserve and I need mega quantities of beans coming on dependably at one time, or the effort of putting them by isn't worth the time involved. I get multiple pickings from one planting of bush beans before they just tire out and get ratty from bugs or weather. So, I stagger a second planting, and this year I have a third planting to come on right before frost. Some years I just rip out the first planting and plant again immediately. In the dead of summer, it doesn't take beans long to come on and mature.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 5:16PM
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tcstoehr

Romantic and charming? I guess.
I currently grow a 24 foot row of Helda (Romano) pole beans containing 20 plants. Since mid June (darned early for us) I've had more than enough for fresh eating and as of last weekend I've put up 32 quarts chopped and packed as densely as possible. Not to mention that several bags have been wasted in the fridge cuz I didn't get around in time to doing something with them. And they're still coming faster than I know what to do with, without having to stagger or replant.
Now, you may or may not do better, that's not the point. I just think that qualifies for more than just "romantic and charming".
However, I do have alot of sunny space to spread out my plants, so they're more productive. You may have to crowd your plants more. And my trellis is less densely packed with vines so picking is relatively easy as the pods are easy to spot. Even though I have to reach high and low, with my old knees I find it quite preferable to crawling and kneeling along a row of bush beans.
It also depends on where your growing them. My 8-foot trellis shades out a considerable bit of potential garden space. But it's space that I'm not using so that's not a factor. In my case, going vertical is the way to go. To get the same amount of beans from bushes, you would need to cultivate more ground and have more plants, but you wouldn't need to bother with a trellis. I just happen to have an 8-foot deer fence all around my yard.
As usual, your mileage may vary.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 6:21PM
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bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)

Considering how small the bush bean plants are, compared to pole beans, they can yeild quite a lot of beans in one picking. The only thing is they don't last too long before they need to be cut back or replanted. Mine only last 2 or 3 weeks before the quality starts to deplete. So if you don't have a lot of room for multiple plantings pole beens would probably produce more overall for you.

For me bush beans are definitly easier and quicker to pick. Pole beans take forever to pick if you have a lot of them.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 8:11PM
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farmerboybill

Hey allenwrench,

Like tcstoehr, I vote for pole beans. I can get as many beans in one 20 foot row of pole beans as I can in 3 of bush. They're also easier to pick because they are mostly above shoulder height. Some grow lower, but most pods form at the top as the plant grows taller. Most beans I pick come from the horizontal bars in the middle of my frame.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 9:04AM
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allenwrench

Thanks to ALL for the help.

One question...

"I like to sprout my pantry, and pantry beans only come in the bush variety."

...what does this mean?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 10:17AM
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calliope(6)

Yes, charming and romantic, LOLOL. Even though I seldom plant pole beans, they're a beautiful sight growing well in a vegetable plot and it strikes me as the same effect as old fashioned flowers do in a cottage garden.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 10:24AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Since I answered this question in great detail on this Bean Forum thread, I won't repeat all of my comments here.

But to summarize... A single row of a high-yielding pole variety (as snaps) will easily yield as much as 3-4 rows of bush beans. If you have limited space, then pole beans are the way to go. And speaking personally, I find the quality of pole beans to be higher than bush varieties, and there are fewer problems with cleaning, pod diseases, and critters chewing on them.

Even if your garden is larger, a single row of pole snaps on the North edge of the garden (to avoid shading other crops) will provide a heavy yield, and free up a considerable amount of space for other things.

Pole beans have their greatest advantage planted in a single long row. Once multiple rows are used, some of this advantage is lost due to shade & spacing concerns.

Like Tcstoehr, I have absolutely no problems with getting enough pole beans to can. My main snap bean crop is "Fortex", and I picked three 5-gallon buckets yesterday from 60 feet of row. This is at peak harvest, I normally pick about half as much... but since the beans need to be picked every 2-3 days over a long period, this really adds up. The freezer will be full after today, so from now until frost, I'm just giving most of them away.

(By the way, I heartily endorse the "Plant a row for the hungry" program.)

Pole beans are not for everyone. Since they occupy space for the entire season, they don't fit into short rotation schedules. They also, as a rule, take longer to bear than their bush counterparts, so might no be suitable to very short seasons (but IMO, more than make up for the wait). And if you are growing dry beans, bush beans actually hold the advantage.

As others have mentioned, you can stagger your plantings of bush beans... but that takes more space, and without a high degree of planning, there are areas of dead/unused garden space throughout the season. Unless other crops are planned to fill the voids, pole beans would make more sense.

It pretty much comes down to personal choice; with the proper planting scheme, either bush or pole beans will work for most gardens. While I do grow a few bush beans, I prefer pole varieties. No bush bean can give me the "Wow!" factor of the best pole varieties. I have been gardening as an adult for over 30 years, and when I am picking the 11-12" pods of "Fortex", I feel like a kid again. ;-)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 12:51PM
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glib(5.5)

Let me vote for pole beans. And if you have large tunnels for winter hoophouses, like I do, picking them is the easiest of gardening tasks. The plants cover the hoophouse as if it were an arbor. Standing inside, the pods hang down under the plant and you can pick them without hardly touching a leaf.

Under the beans, collards enjoy the shade in summer, and the nitrogen, and become huge, and determinate tomato plants (like Roma), while shaded, still make it to maturity for canning in September.

Pole beans are also trouble free plants, all I need to do is scatter seeds, cover with wood chips, give them a bit of wood ash, and let the drip line do the rest. No fertilizing, no spray, no watering of seedlings, no weeding, and snap beans every day from June 15 to Sept. 30. Romano are my favorite varieties due to a combination of earliness and great flavor, even though they do not compare with other varieties production-wise and get tough eventually. They start the season until the purple ones kick in, followed by the best regular varieties.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 2:14PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Allenwrench, by sprouting my pantry I mean I take seeds from beans that I bought at the store to eat. I am sprouting New Orleans Camelia beans now because I like them a lot, and I am trying to figure out which beans are good both as green beans and dried beans. A couple of years ago I did black eye peas. I was not happy with them as green beans, so I let them dry. I collected them and ate them as dry beans, wow, were they good. So what I mean is that even if I don't like them green I can enjoy them dried. I re-use the seed so then I have bean seed well adapted to this climate.

Because they are commercial, all pantry beans you use will be bush beans. Pole beans would not work for commercial production as far as I can tell.

Anyone else here sprounts their pantry?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 10:10AM
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granite(z6 NC)

I grew a little row (8') of white navy beans that I bought at the grocery store...the same type I use for making bean soup. Yes, they were a bush bean and I was fairly satisfied with the production from the "soup beans." I certainly was happy to pay $.75 for 2 lbs of soup beans where I cooked all but a handful and from the handful I planted I got 4 quarts or so of shelled beans. It beat paying $2.15 for a little packet of bean seeds from the local stores, where that barely planted my short rows.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 10:18AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Boy, I sure don't agree that bush beans are easier to pick! I absolutely HATE leaning over to pick the bush beans. For those of us who have leg/back problems, there's nothing worse than leaning over for an hour. And the weeds grow crazy in the bush beans, and as some others have already said, the bush beans seem to get yukky quickly. We could only pick about 1-2 pickings of them, before they would get tough or diseased.
I am finding that the rabbits that get into my garden (over the 2' chicken wire fence) have actually bit off some of the pole beans at the bottom, which of course killed the whole vine. So next year, I'll protect the bottoms of the pole beans.
I just need to find a pole bean that produces early, since it is hard to wait until August to get beans.
I suppose we could plant one row of bush beans to tide us over for fresh eating. But boy do I hate leaning over! lol!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 1:46PM
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barbe_wa

catherinet, I agree about the bending over for picking. Maybe you could do what I do. After a knee replacement, I couldn't "squat" any more so I got an old oilcloth tablecloth. Now I sit on it and scoot along doing my picking and weeding at the same time. I use it for planting in the spring, too. The neighbors are finally getting used to seeing me - at first they would stop and ask if I was okay thinking I had fallen or something. LOL

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 11:43PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Granite I am curious about the navy beans. I agree with the cost savings! See, I mostly buy bean seeds for pole beans, no need to buy for bush beans, just go to the pantry LOL. You say you harvested as shell beans, did you try them as green beans too? were they too stringy? Just wondering. I planted some great northern beans yesterday. My red beans are doing well but just starting, no flowers yet. I wonder if they will make good green beans.
Cabrita

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 2:10PM
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granite(z6 NC)

I didn't try them as green beans as I had half-runners and pole beans planted for that and I wanted shelled beans.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 11:18PM
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allenwrench

Thanks for ALL the replies.

Regarding 'snap beans every day from June 15 to Sept. 30'

Do you stager planting every few weeks or plant the beans all at once?

My beans seemed to finish up and did not produce after the main harvest. Just some stragglers.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 11:33AM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

Glib,

Do you really have your beans ready to pick by June 15? If so, how??? When do you plant them. I'm so curious especially since you're in zone 5. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 1:04PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

These are my findings:

I find bush beans produce more. That is I grew 4 45 foot rows of Pole Beans. I was hoping for high production to sell at Farmers Market. What I got was a whole lot of nothing. Fast Forward 1 year, I didn't plant pole beans, however I started to see some volunteers coming up in August. It is now October and those volunteers are loaded with beans. I am wondering what I did wrong the year before. They were very healthy and grew all over the place. I just think they were too thick.

I am growing bush beans again. Not a fan of bending down, but I want to get beans again.

Jay

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 4:59PM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

glib,

I do believe you live near me so I am wondering when you put in your planting of pole beans. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 12:40PM
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glib(5.5)

May 1, soil already warm (clear or black plastic). Sorry, I do not read all threads, I notice you asked already 4 yrs ago.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 3:08PM
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alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)

Thanks! Actually, I just posted the question yesterday (in 2013) so that makes you more on top of stuff than what you realized. :) I may have to try the plastic as well.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:07PM
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