Maximising farm profit starts with a lot of things and one of the is the right variety for the production system. The right variety will provide the grower with the right product for his market and climate. The most important is climate. If the variety is adapted to the farm climate, a higher portion of the yield will be marketable. Profit can only be made from marketable yields, the rest is compost.

Developing new varieties is an ongoing process and never stops. Breeders try and build in new characteristics for new markets and resistance to diseases. It is not always that important to have resistance for all diseases as some diseases might not be a problem in your area.  It is often found that the more resistant a variety is, the lower the yields are or less ideal other characteristics are for marketing.  So, selecting a variety is getting the balance right.

The main qualities of a good variety are

  • Viable seeds
  • Adaptability
  • Resistance to disease and nematodes
  • Good taste
  • Excellent shelf life and
  • High marketable yield that can be harvested in a single mechanical operation

Good growers always have at least 5 varieties that they are testing on the farm throughout the season.

Runner beans

Mainly because the high cost of training, runner beans are of less commercial value than bush beans in South Africa. However, they are generally cultivated in home gardens and on small scale by market gardeners near cities.

Irrespective of growth habit. Runner beans differ from bush beans in respect of the following:

  • Because the pods are borne clear above the ground, they are generally cleaner
  • The pods are harvested over a longer period, typically 5-6 weeks.
  • The yields are usually higher
  • The pods are longer as those of bush beans

Processing varieties

Varieties used for processing differ from fresh-market varieties in that the quality of their pods must be much better. Good quality includes the following properties:

  • Very little stringy fibres on the pods
  • Hairlessness – no trichomes on the sides of the pod
  • Bright and uniform dark green colour
  • Straight with an average length of about 150-160 mm
  • Oval to round pod shape when cut – or cross section
  • White seed
  • Slow seed development
  • Low percentage of fibres in the pods
  • High pectin content
  • High percentage and grade of jelly like material
  • Good flavour
  • Long field life without losing quality in mature stage