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Soil Type

Beans can be grown in a wide range of soil types but generally the ideal soil type is a medium to heavy clay loam.

Yields of beans, on light soils in dry seasons will be disappointing if drought occurs. Beans should not be grown on peat or soils with a high organic matter content, as mineral deficiencies can occur.

Medium soils allow good root development and will usually retain enough moisture to meet the needs of the crop. Also, medium type soils will dry out reasonably quickly in the springtime, and allow sowing to proceed in good time.

Avoid compacted soils, or soils where draining is impeded. Root development will be stunted, and complete crop failure can result if waterlogging occurs. Waterlogging will also stunt root growth and reduce nitrogen fixation. Waterlogging will also increase crop susceptibility to frost damage and disease (foot rots), all of which reduces yields.

The optimum pH is around 6.5 – 7. If the pH reading drops below 6.0 then an application of lime is needed.


As beans are susceptible to a wide range of soil borne pests and diseases a strict rotation is necessary. A 5 year break is essential between bean crops.

It is desirable that oilseed rape should not have been grown during the previous two years because of the risk of sclerotinia disease.

Seed Bed preparation

Providing good seedbed conditions is essential if you want to get your crop off to a good vigorous start. Spring beans need a medium to fine seedbed produced with the minimum of compaction. Sow at least 7cm deep as soon as soil conditions are suitable from mid-February onwards.

Some Winter beans are grown. Establishment is generally poorer on heavy clay soils, particularly in wet autumns.

Cereal drills are suitable for beans provided attention is paid to careful calibration and setting.

Row spacing of 12 to 35cm are suitable, where soil conditions allow; rolling after sowing will improve pre-emergence weed control and help prevent bird damage.

Time of Sowing

The optimum sowing time for the crops is as follows:

CropOptimum Sowing Time
Winter Beans Late October to Early December
Spring Beans Early February to Mid-March


Optimum Sowing Time

  • Winter Beans - Late October to Early December
  • Spring Beans - Early February to Mid-March
The effect of sowing date on yield and other characteristics of field beans.
Date of SowingYield @ 14% mc (t/ha)Start of FloweringHarvest Date
5th November 7.2 28th April 28th August
20th January 6.9 20th May 5th September
10th February 6.4 28th May 8th September
13th March 5.8 12th June 10th September
9th April 3.8 20th June 20th September
23rd April 3.1 2nd July 1st October

Target Populations, T.G.W and Field Establishment for Beans

Calculating Seed rate

We can calculate the seeding rate using the following formula:

T.G.W. X Target Plant Population/square metre
% Establishment
= Required seeding rate ( in kg/ha)


Let’s assume - T.G.W. = 500;
Target Plant Population = 30;
% Establishment = 80.
Then, 500 x 30 = 187 kg/ha

Rate Of Seeding

The following table outlines target plant population, typical Thousand Grain Weight (T.G.W.) figures and field establishment percentages for winter and spring beans.

Target Populations, T.G.W and Field Establishment for Beans
CropTarget Population (Plant/M2)Typical T.G.W (grams)Normal % Field Establishment
Winter Beans 12 - 20 600 - 700 70 - 80
Spring Beans 25 - 35 400 - 500 80 - 90