Identifying and Improving Factors That Limit Yield and Profitability in Lima Bean Production

in HortScience
Authors:
Ed KeeUniv. of Delaware, Research and Education Center, R.D. 6, Box 48, Georgetown, DE 19947

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Tracy WoottenUniv. of Delaware, Research and Education Center, R.D. 6, Box 48, Georgetown, DE 19947

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James GlanceyUniv. of Delaware, Bio-Resources Engineering, 71 Townsend Hall, Newark, DE 19717

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Average yields of baby lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus L.) are consistently lower in Delaware than California and the Pacific Northwest. Comparison of production practices revealed differences in plant populations, soil type, irrigation, relative humidity, temperature, and plant size for the two areas. Research plots conducted simultaneously in Delaware and California were consistent with commercial experience in that plant mass and shelled bean yield were greater in California. Documentation of lima bean ontogeny revealed more than one flower cluster at a single node in an inflorescence can be produced. Multiple flower clusters contributed to the higher yields in California, but tended to abort under Delaware conditions. Pod-stripper combines are the predominant method of harvesting lima beans for processing in the Mid-Atlantic region. Eighty-four field tests in 1994 and 1995 showed total crop loss during harvest averaged 23.6% of the commercial yield. The predominant losses occurred at the combine header. Variety, lack of field levelness, and improper operation parameters were identified as major contributors to loss.

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