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Yard Long Bean
Vigna sesquipedalis


Vigna Genus

General Information

Also known as:
asparagus bean, Chinese long bean, garter bean, snake bean...

Yard long beans really do grow to 3 feet long, although they are usually picked when about 18 inches long. The are related to black-eyed peas, but taste and look like green beans. They originated in Africa or southern Asia.

They are best eaten when young and tender, about 1 to 1 1 2 feet long.

Current production and yield. Chinese long beans are available year-round from the Caribbean, Mexico and California. Peak supplies are in the late summer or early fall. In a field test at Riverside, researchers obtained marketable yields of 7,500 to 11,100 pounds per acre with three different cultivars. Based upon the plants and their fruiting condition at the end of the harvest as well as the indeterminate nature of the crop, the potential yield was probably greater.

Use. Pick the pods at maximum length but when they are smooth, before the seeds mature or expand. At this tender stage, they can be snapped and cooked in various ways: stewed with tomato sauce; boiled and drained, then seasoned with lemon juice and oil; or simmered in butter or oil and garlic. The pale green bean is meatier and sweeter than the dark green bean, which has a less delicate taste.

Climatic requirements. This warm-season crop can be planted in a wide range of climatic conditions, but is very sensitive to cold temperatures. It can tolerate heat, low rainfall and arid soils, but the pods become short and fibrous with low soil moisture. Chinese long beans prefer high temperature, conditions under which other green beans cannot be produced.

Propagation and care. Plant seeds 1 to 2 inches deep in late spring when the soil is warm. Thin the plants to 6-12 inches in the row with 4-5 feet between rows. Since long beans are a legume some growers inoculate the seed with nitrogen fixing Rhizobium bacteria as an alternative to using nitrogen fertilizer. Use the cowpea or "EL" strain of inoculant, which is commercially available from various sources.

The plant's long, trailing growth habit requires a trellis for best production. Training the vine requires labor, about as much as for tomatoes and peas. The plant will climb by itself, but still needs some help and a very strong trellis system. The vines will grow to the top of your trellis, so don't build the trellis so high that harvesting is made difficult. Various trellising systems can be used. Chinese long beans will climb poles, especially if they are not completely vertical and the poles are 3 4 inch to 2 and a half inches in diameter, but they must be trained to the poles early in the season.

Fruits grow from open flower to marketable length in about 9 days. If the seed was not inoculated with a Rhizobium, high nitrogen fertilizer may be required when seeding and during the growing season. A field test at Riverside supplied 3 inches of water and 10 lbs of nitrogen per acre per week. Long beans require more water than cowpeas.

Aphids, particularly the black bean aphid (Aphis fabae), are drawn to the pods of this plant. By planting near other crops infested with this aphid, you are asking for trouble. Thrips tend to be a pest early in the season, but the plants will often out grow them, especially as the weather gets warmer and the plants grow faster. Mites can be a problem, primarily after insecticide applications, which often lead to mite outbreaks.

Harvest and postharvest practices. Harvested beans develop rusty patches quickly. Keep moist while in coolers, since dehydration in the coolers will lower quality and make them unmarketable. Sell beans as fresh as possible.

Other names for this Asian vegetable...

China: cheung kong tau, dau gok, dow gauk, tseng dou, cai dou, chang dou, chang jiang dou, chang kong tau, jiang dou

India: lobia

Indonesia: kacang panjang, otok

Japan: juroku sasage mame, sasage

Malaysia: kacang belut, kacang panjang, kacang panjang hijau, kacang perut ayam

Philippines: banor, hamtak, sitao, sitaw

Sri Lanka: diya mekaral

Thailand: tau afuk yaou, tau fug yao, thua chin

Vietnam: dau dua, dau que

Yard Long Bean - Plant
Yard Long Bean - Plant - May 11, 2009

Yard Long Bean - Plant
Yard Long Bean - Plant - May 11, 2009

Yard Long Bean - Plant
Yard Long Bean - Plant - May 11, 2009

Comment: Yard Long Bean, Vigna sesquipedalis

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