Delayed Sets in Lima Beans

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

In talking with growers and observing our research plots, 2011 was another challenging year for early lima beans. May planted lima beans harvested in late July and in August did produce a partial set with yields ranging from 500-2000 lbs depending on field and location. There was enough cool weather in the second half of June to allow for some set, but July heat did not allow for continued set, even in irrigated conditions

Early June planted lima beans have been a mixed bag, again depending on field and location. Some fields have a bad split set and all the associated problems of when to harvest. However, many early June planted fields dropped all their early sets due to the mid-summer heat, retaining pods only after the heat abated, thus delaying harvest 2-3 weeks (from expected late August to mid September). These fields are yielding much better (over 3000 lbs irrigated). Fields planted later in June and in July did lose some set due to wind damage during the hurricane but have recovered well and the impact on yield may be minimal, although harvest will be pushed later in some fields.

On another note, the regrowth cropping lima bean trial on our research farm, initially harvested in late July, has a good set and will make a second crop long before frost. Observations from other growers experimenting with regrowth cropping are similar, with good regrowth and set where wheel traffic at harvest was not severe.

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