Sugar beans have a very huge market because they are consumed by almost every household and large institutions such a boarding schools and prisons. Sugar bean farming can be a very rewarding venture if the appropriate crop is planted in the right regions and at the right time with the right inputs. Sugar bean farmers should follow proper procedures on growing the crop starting from land preparation to harvesting.Like any other crop, sugar beans need basal fertilizers and respond to basal manure and fertilizer application.
Beans may be grown on a wide range of soils, but they generally prefer soils with some clay (>15%), and they are sensitive to soil acidity.. Beans are best grown during the cooler months of summer (January to April) on the Highveld or in winter in the Lowveld with irrigation. In the Highveld, sugar beans can be grown after frost occurrence.
A number of varieties are available, from speckled sugar beans ( S.C. Bounty & S C Sharp types) to white broad beans. It is important to select the right variety for the intended market, as there are definite market preferences. The most preferred is the speckled type.
Plant when the soil is moist. Planting in rows has many advantages like:
– you use the correct plant density;
– weeding is easier; and
– harvesting takes less time.
1. Plant in rows which are 20 – 30cm apart. Within a row, plant seeds at 5 – 7cm apart.
2. Plant seeds at a depth of about 5cm.
3. Fill gaps one to two weeks after planting and when plants have emerged.
Sugar beans needs phosphorus at planting. Good fertilizer types for sugar beans are SSP or compound L. Although sugar beans can fix nitrogen, it often benefits from a small starter dose of nitrogen from fertilizer. Fertilizer types that supply both phosphorus and nitrogen are compound L, compound D or NPK.
Start harvesting sugar beans when the leaves and pods are dry and yellow brown. Harvest by handpicking dry pots or by cutting the plans at ground level using a sickle. Leave the roots on the farm to improve soil fertility. Dry the pods or the plants with pods in the sun on a clean surface like a mat, plastic sheet or tarpaulin, or on a raised platform. Dry for about one day and do not dry the pods on the soil.
Select fertile to moderately fertile land with no water logging. Sugar beans does not tolerate acidic soils. Think about the rotation scheme for the field you want to plant. To prevent diseases do not plant beans in the same field you used for beans last season.
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