How to achieve maximum productivity in French bean farming
Achieving maximum production of French beans has never been easy. Production management is a precise and delicate process that requires expertise and a comprehensive understanding of what the crop needs. French beans are highly productive when proper management practices are employed.
What is the seed rate per acre?
Beans can be planted onto well-prepared seedbeds or directly in the field. The seed rate per acre varies depending on the spacing and seed size. For varieties such as Vanilla, Amy, Teresa, Boston, and Serengeti, the seed rate per acre is 18-22kgs while the rate can even fall to 16kgs for varieties with smaller seeds such as Star.
To attain a minimum production of 400kgs per kilo, various factors should be implemented which include:
Ensure proper and timely fertilizer and manure application
French beans are highly productive when they receive all the required nutrients. Since they mature within 45 – 60 days depending on the variety, all fertilizers should be applied in the first month.
During the planting time, 80 – 100 kg of DAP should be applied. To prevent fertilizer burn, DAP should be mixed thoroughly with the soil before planting. If planting takes place during the dry season, irrigation should be done before or immediately after planting to dissolve the fertilizer.
Top-dressing with Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN) should at the rate of 100 -120kg per acre when two to three leaves appear and with NPK 17.17.17 at the onset of flowering at the same rate. However, the amount of fertilizers required varies depending on the soil conditions.
On most occasions, 4-8kg of fertilizers should be applied per kilo of seeds depending on the soil conditions and French bean variety.
Regular foliar application is required. However, extensive application of nitrogen is not recommended since the plants focus on excessive vegetative growth instead of flowering and yield composition. Foliar feeds should be changed as the crop grows. Farmers should begin with “starter foliar” when the plants are still young then switch to high-nitrogen-based foliar fertilizers during vegetative growth. When flowering begins, high-potassium-based foliar should be used.
Timely control of pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can cause massive damage to crop quality and overall production. Aphids, bean fly, thrips, and whiteflies are some of the pests that can cause massive damage to the plants. For instance, thrips are mainly found in the flowers and damage the pods if not controlled resulting in rejection of the produce by export companies. Apart from pests, beans are also susceptible to attacks by pests and diseases such as anthracnose, blight, Downey mildew, powdery mildew, rust, angular leaf spot, bean common mosaic virus, and root rots. Farmers are advised to use recommended fungicides, and pesticides, certified seeds, tolerant and disease-resistant varieties, and crop rotation to control pests and diseases.
What is the average production per acre?
With proper feeding, irrigation, pest and disease control, and favorable ecological conditions, a farmer can harvest between 300-450kgs per kilo which translates to 6-9 tons. However, the production of different varieties varies. A farmer can harvest the French beans 3 days per week for three weeks.
How long do French beans take to mature?
French beans take between 45 – 60 days to mature depending on the variety, ecological conditions, and crop management practices employed.
How much should one expect from one acre of French beans?
The profitability of French beans is determined by the demand in the export market and the current supply by the farmers. During the high season especially from mid-March to mid-April, one kilo of French beans sells at between Ksh 70-Ksh 100. Thus a farmer can pocket an average of between Ksh 420,000 – Ksh 600,000 with an average of 6 tonnes per acre. However, during the low season, running from June to September, the prices can plummet to KSh 30 per kilo which means that a farmer will only pocket Ksh 180,000 per acre.