VARIETIES (approximately 80 to 100 days in lower Columbia Basin).
Very few lima beans are grown for fresh market in the Pacific Northwest.
When grown for
processing, varieties are specified by processor. Commercial lima bean
production has generally been limited to east of the Cascade Mountains. Some varieties grown east of the Cascade
Small-seeded types: Packer DM (early), Maffei 15, Early Thorogreen,
Kingston, Thaxter, Clarks
Bush, Baby Lima, Wasatch.
Large-seeded types: Fordhook 242.
Pole types (for specialty fresh market and home garden): King of the
Garden, Large Speckled
Others for trial: Eastland, Baby Fordhook.
Lima beans are adapted only to the warmer areas of east of the Cascades
such as the Columbia Basin and Treasure Valley.
Lima beans grow best on medium to light, loamy soils that are well
drained and well supplied with organic matter. Lima beans can develop vigorous, extensive root
Avoid fields that are stony or that have a history of high weed
populations, especially quackgrass.
Select fields that are uniform in fertility, soil type, slope and drainage.
Rotate crops to minimize root damage from root rot diseases and avoid fields that had crops where white
mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) was a problem. Determine corrective lime and fertilizer
rates by a soil test.
In general, pH should be at least 6.5. In fields with no recent history of lima
bean production, seed will need to be properly inoculated (see below).
Lima beans are planted in the lower Columbia Basin from about mid May to
mid June after soil temperatures exceed 65 to 70 F. Ideal germination is at soil temperatures of
75 to 85 F. Soil temperatures below 60 F result in poor stands and poor early growth.
Lima bean seed is sensitive to damage from cold water imbibition,
particularly when the seed is
very dry. To reduce risk of cold water imbibition damage condition the seed
to 12-14% moisture before planting. This may be done by opening seedbags and placing
them in a protected area to absorb moisture from the air several days before planting. Stand
establishment is one of the major limiting factors in lima bean production.
Lima bean seed numbers approximately 25-75/ounce for large-seeded
and small-seeded types respectively. Use only fungicide and insecticide-treated seed.
Use a plant spacing of 3-4 inches within row and 22 to 36 inches between
rows. Use the wider spacings for large-seeded limas. For baby limas, a
spacing of 3 x 22 inches would result in approximately 95,000 plants/acre. At about 1300 seeds/lb,
approximately 73 lb seed/acre would be needed.
For large limas, a spacing of 4 x 36 inches would result in about 44,000
plants/acre. At 500 seeds/lb, about 88 lb seed/acre would be needed.
Seeding rates would have to be adjusted upward from these figures to take into
account actual seed count, germination percentage, and expected seedling mortality.
Inoculating seed before planting is recommended when limas are to be
grown on soils on which limas have not been grown before. Strains of inoculum specific for limas
should be used. Consult your seed supplier for the appropriate strains and inoculation
methods. Inoculum should be fresh and should be applied just before planting.
The following recommendations are for east of the Cascade Mountains. It
is recommended that a soil test be done for each field to be planted.
Nitrogen: 60-100 lb total N per acre. Base pre-plant application, if
any, on residual soil N.
If a pre-plant application is needed, apply only 20-30 lb N/acre so as not to
interfere with root nodulation. Adjust supplementary applications to stand, crop vigor
and seasonal conditions. Thirty-five to 40 days after planting, prior to an irrigation,
sidedress another 30-60 lb N/acre. An additional 30-40 lb N/acre may be applied at bloom if needed.
Avoid excessive N since it may cause rank growth, delayed flowering and increased incidence of mold.
Phosphorus: 70-80 (P2O5) lb/acre
Potassium: (K2O) not needed in most cases in the production areas east
of the Cascade Mountains.
Sulfur: 5-15 (S) lb/acre
Zinc: 5-15 (Zn) lb/acre
It is best to plant lima beans into moisture and avoid irrigation
until the stand has been
established. Manage water applications carefully to avoid excessive
vegetative growth before
bloom. From 20-25 inches of water may be needed depending on seasonal
variation, variety, and
planting date. Approximate summer irrigation needs for the Hermiston area
have been found to
be: 3.5 inches in May, 5.0 in June, 7.5 in July, and 7.0 in August.
Soil type does not affect the amount of total water needed, but does
dictate frequency of water
application. Lighter soils need more frequent water applications, but less
water applied per
HARVESTING, HANDLING, AND STORAGE
Lima beans are harvested in the Columbia Basin from about mid-August to
prime harvest season is from about the first of September to mid-September.
Average yield of
baby limas is approximately 2000 to 3000 lb/acre.
The harvest date is scheduled by the processor. It is helpful to know
the predicted maturity date
for each variety, but these dates will vary from year to year because of
climatic conditions. A
general rule of thumb is that a field with 10% of the pods "dry" will produce
ample yields with
good quality still available.
For harvest, the rows are cut with either rotary cutters or knives, and
windrowed, and then picked
up by mobile viners for threshing. The new "pod-picking" harvesters used in
peas are now also
being used for harvesting limas for processing. These eliminate the need for
Lima beans for fresh market are most often hand harvested, but new
mechanical harvesters are
also available that harvest pods intact.
STORAGE (Quoted or modified from USDA Ag. Handbook 66 and other sources)
For fresh market, store lima beans at 37 to 40 F and a relative humidity
of 95 %. Lima beans are
highly perishable and also sensitive to chilling injury, so they are
precooled, preferably by
hydrocooling, immediately after harvest and kept at a low temperature. Pods
are more sensitive
to chilling injury than the beans, so the unshelled beans should be kept at 40
to 43 F.
Shelled beans can be kept at 37 to 40 F. At these temperatures, the
loss in quality resulting from
the combination of normal deterioration and chilling injury is less than that
due to either normal
deterioration at higher temperatures or chilling injury at lower temperatures.
deterioration of pods are indicated by rusty-brown specks and spots that
increase sharply at 70
F, and shelled lima beans become spotty and sticky. Unshelled lima beans can
be kept for about a
week at the respective suggested temperatures.
Shelled lima beans are sometimes stored in perforated polyethylene bags. An
atmosphere of high
carbon dioxide content is desirable. For example, one with 25 to 30 % carbon
stickiness and spotting of seeds by inhibiting fungal and bacterial growths.
The effect of a low
oxygen atmosphere has not been reported.
Limas should be used promptly after removal from refrigeration as the
pods discolor rapidly at
For fresh market, lima beans are commonly packaged in 26 to 31-lb bushel
wirebound crates and
bushel hampers, or 20 to 30-lb cartons.
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