In Season
News, Tips,and Advice on What's "In Season"

Green Beans

Snap beans are a popular plant grown in most home vegetable gardens. They are easy to grow, taste good, and they are good for you.

Green beans can be planted in the early spring in cooler soils. Harvest them when they are young. They’ll be tender and less stringy.


There are two types of bean plants -- bush (snap) and pole beans.

Snap beans are a tender, warm-season vegetable that are planted after danger of frost. Depending on the variety, they take 45 to 55 days to produce a harvestable crop, whereas pole beans begin to bear in 60 to 70 days.

Snap beans are available in green, yellow or wax, purple, French or filet, Romano, and runner varieties.
Bush bean plants stand without support and grow one to two feet tall. They are the most popular because they yield well and are less work than pole beans.

Pole bean plants climb on supports growing seven to eight feet tall. They are easily harvested and will produce a continuous supply of beans throughout the summer. Some common cultivars include: 'Blue Lake,' 'Kentucky Wonder,' 'Romano,' and 'Kentucky Blue.'

To ensure a continuous supply of beans, plant seeds every two to four weeks until early August. Some common cultivars include: 'Tender Crop,' 'Provider,' 'Top Crop,' 'Roma II,' and 'Royal Burgundy.'

Snap beans were formerly called string beans because older varieties had a fibrous string running along the pod's seam. Today's newer varieties are stringless. Look for cultivars which have a good-flavored bean combined with disease resistance.

In Season

Harvest beans when the pods are firm, crisp (snap easily) and fully elongated. Length of the pod depends on the cultivar. Most are harvested when five to six inches long. Be sure to harvest before the seeds within the pod develop significantly, this is before you see the seed bulge. Pick beans when the plants are dry. Picking beans from wet plants can spread diseases.

Handling and Storage

Store fresh bean pods unwashed in plastic bags in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator for up to three days. Just before using, wash beans in cold water. Only the stem ends need to be removed. Serve raw or cooked. To retain the most nutritional value, cooking time should be brief.

If you have an excess of green beans, they can be frozen, dried or canned.

Common problems of bean plants include bean leaf beetles, bean mosaic diseases, and bacterial bean blight. Other diseases include anthracnose, rust, and white mold.

Bean leaf beetles cause holes in the leaves and sometimes eat the pods. Harvest is not affected if less than 20 percent of foliage is eaten.

Disease incidence can be reduced by growing disease resistant cultivars, good air circulation around plants, avoiding injury to plants, avoiding over-fertilization and control of weeds.

Green Beans poster
Green Beans


French Pole Beans
French Pole Beans

Jennifer Fishburn, University of Illinois Extension
Maurice Ogutu, University of Illinois Extension  (708) 352-0109

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