Harvest, yields and packing
Beans are self-pollinated and bees or other insects are not necessary to produce pods. Harvesting occurs about two weeks after flowering.
First picking occurs 7 to 11 weeks are planting, depending upon season. Some people experience skin allergies when picking beans and must wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.
Pick beans early in the morning in hot weather and keep them cool. This is especially important with the stringless dwarf varieties, which wilt more readily than the Westralia variety.
A total of 4 to 12 picks is obtained with climbing beans over 10 to 30 days, depending on season. Pick beans when they are over 15cm in length, with half-sized seeds. Younger beans wilt rapidly. Best quality beans are straight with smooth pods.
Do not market over-mature, small, misshapen or blemished beans. Reject beans may amount to a quarter of the crop.
Dwarf beans are picked two to five times over 7 to 15 days, when the beans are 10 to 13cm long, depending on variety.
Baby beans can be picked for gourmet markets. These are less than 10cm long.
Dwarf beans can be harvested by machine in one pick. Harvesting machines are expensive and a minimum of 10ha of beans is needed to justify the purchase. Yields and quality can be lower than with hand picking and hand grading is required after harvesting.
Climbing beans usually yield 6 to 10t/ha and a yield of 15 to 25t/ha is high. Dwarf varieties yield slightly less than climbing varieties.
Packing and storage
Cool beans to 4.5 to 6.0°C immediately after harvesting. Grade beans during picking. Pack into 22L or 36L plastic crates or 10kg cartons.
For good presentation and extra life, dwarf beans and baby beans may be packed into 300g punnets and covered with clear plastic, with 12 punnets stacked on a tray.
Store beans at 4.5 to 6.0°C at 90 to 95% relative humidity for one to three weeks. Bacterial soft rot and Sclerotinia may appear in the middle of packages if beans are packed when wet.
For best results, consign dwarf beans to distant markets in refrigerated trucks. Beans are consigned from Kununurra to Perth by air.
This material was originally authored by John Burt.