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Green beans, also known as string bean, snap bean in the northeastern and western United States, are the unripe fruit of various cultivars of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Haricots verts, French for "green beans", also known as French beans, French green beans, French filet beans, is a variety of green bean that's longer, thinner, crisp, and tender
They are collected tender and eaten as a vegetable; the whole fruit (pod and the seeds) are eaten. Over 130 varieties of green bean are known. Varieties specialized for use as green beans, are selected for the succulence and flavor of their pods. They are usually grown in the home vegetable garden, and many varieties exist. It’s used in many food recipes all over the world.
Distinguishing between green beans from dried beans
Green beans are immature legumes with the outside part of the fruits; called pods very tender and thin, with small seeds inside poorly developed. These characteristics allow them to be included in the vegetable group, instead of legumes group, because their properties are closed to those of other vegetable. Dried beans are the mature seeds of the bean plant. They have different edible properties that make them to be included in the legumes food group.
Importance of green beans
1. Green beans are packed with dietary fiber which is beneficial for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber adds bulk to the stools and enables easy passage during bowel movements. Green beans are good for those with high cholesterol since fiber helps to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. People with diabetes may also include green beans in their diet since it helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
2. Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect against high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer. Vitamin A also delays the signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles, dull skin, fine lines, dark spots and dry skin.
3. They also contain good amounts of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), and vitamin-C. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.
4. In addition, beans contain healthy amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which are very essential for body metabolism. Green beans are an ideal food during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to their high iron content.
The common bean requires over 500mm of rain. It does not tolerate water logging. It tolerates temperatures of 15° C to 27° C. Germinates well at temperatures above 18° C. Most varieties do not tolerate frost. It requires a pH greater than 5.2. It grows best in well drained sand, silt or clay loams with high organic content.
Beans grow best in full sun and well-drained, fertile, and friable (crumbly) soil so seedling emergence is not inhibited. Crop rotation is an important cultural practice for beans to avoid disease problems. Rotate crops by alternating the location of bean plantings with a different crop each year.
The planting density varies depending on the irrigation method. An average seed requirement is between 29-34kg/ha.
Adequate moisture is especially important from flower bud formation to pod set. . For maximum output, beans requires 3,000 to 8,000 m3/ha. If this requirement is not covered by available soil water reserves plus rainfall, irrigation will be needed. Crops are either furrow irrigated, drip irrigated or irrigated by sprinklers. Too much or too little water, or excessive heat, causes blossom and pod drop. Extremes in soil moisture can also lead to malformed pods in which only the first few seeds develop, leaving the rest of the bean pod shriveled. Water early in the morning to allow plants to dry quickly and reduce opportunity for disease infection
They are grown for the fresh market and processing. So are usually picked while still immature and while the inner beans are just beginning to form in the pod. Pod diameter, not length, is the best indicator of quality. Buyers prefer pods with no bulge or only a slight bulge, indicating tender, young seeds. Over mature snap beans with bulging pods are tough and fibrous, while immature pods are more susceptible to wilting. Freshness is evidenced by a distinct, audible snap when the bean is broken.
For export, storage in a cold room is obligatory to preserve the shelf life of the product. Reducing temperature below 4°C causes blotches appearance; moderate ventilation helps to prevent pods from drying out. The time lag between harvests to refrigeration must be as short as possible.
Like most crops, green beans are vulnerable to pests. These vary by region and time of year. The following are the most common pests affecting beans.
Anthracnose: A major disease of beans, anthracnose is caused by a fungus and is responsible for major crop loss throughout the world. This disease has the ability to reach epidemic proportions in wet growing conditions. It results in reduced yields due initially to poor seed germination. Symptoms of anthracnose appear on seedlings grown from infected seeds.
Bacterial Blight: Bacterial blight infections occur during warm weather. Infections develop on parts of the plant that have been previously injured through insect feeding or weather-induced damage, such as, wind or hard rainfalls
Downy Mildew: This is a fungal disease which infects the lower leaves of the plant. This disease can spread rapidly and kill plants during cool, moist conditions.
Crop protection is governed by "Good Agricultural Practice" (GAP), following general recommendations of commercial referential. The goal is to provide a product that is sound, high-quality and affordable.
It is essential to combine the specific crop protection methods recommended below with all available husbandry methods (variety choice, rotation, staggered sowings, tillage, precision, fertilization, etc.) to obtain optimum protection (Integrated Production and Protection), making full use of agronomic and ecological factors.
To limit pressure from parasites and certain pests:
→ Use crop husbandry methods of pest control as far as possible,
→ Avoid sowing beans near another crop that is infested by pests that may attack beans,
→ Avoid sowing beans in a field where beans have been grown recently (a 3-year rotation is regarded as the minimum; ideally, rotations of 5 or 6 years are recommended for land infected with soil fungi or nematodes).
Globally, about 12 million metric tons of common beans are produced annually. Latin America is the largest producer, with some 5.5 million metric tons, with Brazil and Mexico being by far the major producers. Africa is the second most important region, producing about 2.5 million metric tons, with Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Congo playing major roles.
 Source: Facciola, Stephen (1998). Cornucopia II: a source book of edible plants. Kampong Publications.ISBN 0-9628087-2 5.