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Beans are a leguminous agricultural crop.

Economic importance

Bean seeds and green beans are used for food purposes fresh, boiled and canned. The seeds contain 21-30% protein with good taste (comparable to peas), 1.6% fat, 40% carbohydrates, 4.0% minerals. Green beans contain up to 15.7% protein in terms of dry matter, up to 2% of raw weight of sugars, up to 22 mg/100 g of vitamin C.

Multiflower beans are also used for ornamental purposes. Some forms of beans are suitable as a green fertilizer.

The green mass of Asian bean species such as masha and adzuki is suitable for fodder purposes. The green mass of common bean is not eaten by animals.

The leaves of the bean are used in the production of citric acid.

They are capable of nitrogen fixation.

History of the crop

Since ancient times beans have been cultivated in South and Central America. At the end of the 16th century, the bean was introduced into Europe, and in the 17th and 18th centuries it began to spread in Russia.

The small-seed bean or mung bean was introduced into cultivation 5-6 thousand years ago in South Asia (India, China, Japan).

Cultivation areas and yields

In the world agriculture the area under bean cultivation ranks second after the soybean among leguminous crops. The world’s cultivated area is about 24-28 million hectares, or 17% of the total legume area. The gross seed yield is 18 million tons or 8% of the gross legume seed yield. The average yield is 0.7 t/ha.

The world bean is cultivated in Asia, where the area of sown area is 11 million hectares, of which 6 million hectares are sown in India, as well as in Europe, America, Africa and Australia.

In the USSR, the area of beans sown was approximately 53 thousand hectares. Among the countries of the former USSR, the main sowings were concentrated in Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus. In Russia, there are no official statistics on the area and yield of beans, it is supposed that by the end of XX century, the area under crops was 10 thousand hectares, the gross yield was 14 thousand tons, and the average yield was 1.4 t/ha. In Russia main regions of cultivation are North Caucasus, Far East, Central Black Earth zone, Non-Black Earth zone, Siberia. It is also cultivated on homesteads in most regions. Early varieties can be cultivated as far as St. Petersburg.

Seed yields range from 1 to 3 t/ha depending on soil and climatic conditions. In the Krasnodar region yield reaches 2.5-2.8 t/ha. The maximum possible yield is 3.5 t/ha.

Botanical description

By origin and botanical traits, beans are divided into American and Asian.

There are peeled and sugar (asparagus) varieties of beans according to the structure of their seeds.

American beans

The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris Savi). Available in bush, semi-twisted and curly forms. The bushy forms reach up to 50 cm in height. The leaves are trifoliate. Inflorescences consist of 2-3 flowers. A self-pollinating plant, cross-pollination by insects is sometimes noted. Flowers are white or pink. Pods long, erect or curved, beak-like, round or flattened. Pods are attached low to the stem, ripening at different times, which makes harvesting very difficult. Seeds are of various colors, sometimes mosaic. Weight of 1000 seeds is 200-500 g.

Multifloral beans (Phaseolus multiflorus Wild). Has a long curly stem, large white and red flowers, large flattened elliptical seeds. Weight of 1,000 seeds 700-1200 g. Beans are short, wide with a beak. The bean sprouts do not bring seeds to the soil surface. In Russia it came under the name of ‘Turkish beans’ in the 18th century.

Sharp-leaved or tepari beans (Phaseolus acutifolius Agrad). It occurs in bush forms. The pods are flat, short with a beak, and the seeds are small. Weight of 1,000 seeds 100-140 g. Leaves petiolate, pointed. Inflorescence is brush-shaped with a short pedicel. Drought-resistant. This species was known to ancient Indians.

Lima bean, or moon-shaped bean (Phaseolus lunatus L.). Suitable for food purposes. The flowers are small. Beans are wide, short, and flat (semilunar), consisting of 2-3 seeds, easily cracked. Seeds are kidney-shaped and of various colors. Weight of 1,000 seeds 250-1,000 g. Cultivated in America, Africa, Asia and some European countries. In Russia it is found in kitchen gardens.

In Russia the common bean is cultivated mainly.

Asian beans

Golden beans or mung bean (Phaseolus aureus Piper). A creeping or semi-creeping pubescent plant. Has long narrow, narrow, multi-seeded, beakless beans. The seeds are small, yellow or green in color, and weigh 1,000-30 g. In Central Asia and Transcaucasia, it is used for food; straw is used for fodder. It is more demanding of heat and moisture than the common bean. Cultivated in Asia, small areas are available in the Far East of Russia.

Biological features

Temperature requirements

Common bean is a thermophilic plant. Seeds germinate at 10 °C; seedlings emerge at 12-13 °C. Frosts as low as -0.1 … -1 °C are detrimental to seedlings. Once sprouts have grown, they can withstand slight frosts.

Some varieties (usually dark-coloured ones) may germinate at 7-8 °C, and some varieties survive night frosts as low as -2 °C.

Golden beans (mung bean) are the most heat-demanding form. They are heat-resistant.

Moisture requirements

Beans are considered a less moisture-demanding grain legume than peas, lentils or fodder beans. However, beans need moisture during the germination period. Seeds require 104.5% water of their weight to swell. There is also a greater need for water during the flowering and setting phases of the beans. Soil moisture during this period should not be less than capillary rupture moisture.

Light requirements

Beans are a light-loving, short-day plant.

Some varieties may respond neutrally or positively to a long day. Most of these are varieties cultivated in northern latitudes.

Soil requirements

Optimal soils for growing beans are light chernozem, loamy fertile soils rich in lime, structured, medium-consolidated, not too wet, with a pH of 6.5-7.5.

Of the bean species, tepari, lima and mung bean are less sensitive to soil salinity.

Heavy, clayey, poorly heated soils with a high groundwater table, dense solonetzic soils, and very light sandy soils are unfavorable for cultivation.


The vegetation period is 75-120 days.

Flowering of bush forms of common bean lasts 15-20 days, of curly forms 30-35 days.

For common beans, the phases of vegetation are accepted:

  • sprouting;
  • the first true leaf;
  • budding;
  • flowering;
  • ripening.

Crop rotation

Beans in a crop rotation are usually placed after winter cereals, sugar beets, potatoes, and other crops. If there is a risk of sclerotinia, beans are not placed after sunflowers.

It may be used for reseeding of winter crops with poor overwintering.

Beans are row crops; therefore, they are a good preceding crop in crop rotations for many field crops including cereals. In the Northern Caucasus, for example, winter cereals are placed after beans.

Fertilizer system

On soils poor in organic matter organic fertilizers are applied under its predecessor. In the Non-Black Soil Zone on poor soils, organic fertilizer can be applied directly under the beans in an amount of 10-15 t/ha.

At the fall treatment under the plowing bring phosphorus-potassium fertilizer in an amount of P45-80K45-80. Responds well to the introduction of ash.

During sowing, a row application of phosphorus fertilizer at P10-15 is recommended.

On poor soils in the Non-Black Soil Zone under the beans in the spring also make nitrogen fertilizer N10-25, as young plants can not fully cover their need for nitrogen from the weak activity of symbiotic nodule bacteria.


Tillage is similar to that for other leguminous crops and late spring crops.


Seed preparation

Preparation of bean seeds for sowing consists of sorting and air-heating.

It is recommended to treat the seeds with bacterial preparations.

Sowing dates

Sowing beans begins when the frosts are over and the soil at the seed embedment depth is warmed to 12-15 °C. In the south of Russia it is late April – early May, in the middle belt – mid-May. In the Saratov region, the bean yield was higher by 0.36 t/ha when sown on May 17-21 at a soil temperature of 14-18 ° C than when sown on May 8-12, and by 0.26 t/ha higher than when sown on May 27-June 3.

Too early sowing leads to prolonged absence of shoots and seeds may rot.

Sowing methods

The method of sowing is wide-row. Inter-row spacing in the main areas of cultivation and insufficient moisture is 60 cm, in the northern areas – 45 cm.

Small-seeded forms are sown by grain seeders, large-seeded – by corn or cotton seeders.

Seeding rates

Seeding rate is 0.25-0.4 million germinated seeds per hectare. The weight rate for small-seeded varieties is 70-80 kg/ha, and for large-seeded – 100-150 kg/ha.

Sowing depth

Since beans take the cotyledons to the soil surface, the sowing depth is shallow – 3-5 cm. If the top layer dries out, the sowing depth is increased to 6-8 cm.

Mixed crops

In conditions of sufficient moisture bean sowing can be combined with corn and potatoes.

Crop care

In case of late sowing and shallow seeding, the soil is rolled with ring-spiked rollers.

After the appearance of the first pair of true leaves and further to the closing of the rows, the care consists in loosening the row spacing. If necessary, the crops are thinned.

In conditions of sufficient moisture is practiced bean plant hilling.

Under irrigation conditions in the south of Russia, as well as in areas with long summers and sufficient moisture, early-ripening varieties of beans are grown after harvesting winter cereals or as a fallow-occupied crop.


The beans are harvested when most of the beans turn yellow and the seeds harden. The leaves have fallen off by this time, and the beans have reached 70-80% maturity. Mechanized harvesting of some varieties is difficult because of the low attachment of the beans to the stem below 10 cm. Therefore, two methods of two-phase harvesting are used. The first, more common for varieties with bean fastening not lower than 10 cm from the soil surface, is to mow plants in swaths with a reaper ЖБА-3,5. The second method is suitable for bush low-stemmed varieties, consists in pulling the plants and placing them in swaths by a beans harvester FA-4. Then the mowed swaths are picked up and threshed by the combine СК-4, equipped with special devices.


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Horticulture/P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko. Vavilov. ed. by P.P. Vavilov, V.S. Kuznetsov et al. – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and Tutorials for Higher Education Institutions).

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Farming and plant growing. Ed. by V.S. Niklyaev. – Moscow: “Bylina”. 2000. – 555 с.