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close up of green beans in a colander close up of green beans in a colander

Green Beans

Phaseolus vulgaris

picture of full green beans and cut up green beans
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Importance of Green Beans to Oregon

Oregon is ranked 4th in United States green bean production. In 2020, the state grew 1.3 million tons. That was 8% of the US green beans. All of those beans were worth over 20 million dollars to Oregon.  There are close to 500 farms that grow green beans on about 13,000 acres.1 Most of the green beans grown in Oregon are for processing, not to sell fresh. The majority are canned or frozen.2

History of Green Beans

Green beans are sometimes called snap beans or string beans. They originally came from South and Central America. Indigenous tribes spread their seeds to other areas. Explorers also brought green beans to North America and other countries in the late 1400s. Native Americans grew green beans with corn. The beans would use the corn as a pole and grow up them. In the late 1800s farmers started to breed green beans. They wanted to grow better varieties with less strings.3

picture of people hand picking green beans in 1944
Image by LOC’s Public Domain Archive

Green Bean Varieties

Green beans have two main types. They are bush and pole. Bush beans are 1-2 feet tall and don’t have to be supported as they grow. Pole beans can climb to around 10 feet tall and have to have a pole or wire to grow upright. There are more than 130 varieties of snap beans. Some of them are green and others can be purple, gold, and more.
close up picture of blue lake green beans
Image by Cristina Sanvito on Flickr

Blue Lake

Blue lake green beans were originally bush beans in the early 1900s. A pole type was created in 1961. Blue lake beans can be canned or eaten fresh. The pods are 5-6 inches long. This variety came to Oregon in 1923 and has been improved on since then.4

picture of Kentucky wonder green beans in a bowl and on a plate
Image by sk on Flickr

Kentucky Wonder

Kentucky Wonder green beans are an heirloom variety. These beans are good fresh, frozen, or canned. Their pods tend to be 4-5 inches long. Kentucky Wonder plants grow many beans and have a high yield. This variety have been around since the mid 1800s.5

picture of romano green beans in a bowl
Image by Sarah R on Flickr


Romano beans come in both pole and bush type. Their pods are usually 5-6 inches long. They are flatter than many other types of green beans. Romano beans can be different colors. Some are yellow, some are white, and there are even purple Romano beans.6

picture of purple trionfo green beans on the bush
Image by versageek on Flickr


Trionfo beans are considered a green bean, but the pods are purple. They become bright green when they are cooked. The pods are 7-10 inches long, which is longer than many varieties. The plant has green leaves with purple veins and stems.7

Life Cycle of a Green Bean

Green beans are planted in the spring, after winter’s last frosts have happened. They are planted as seeds, directly into the soil. Bush beans are planted in rows in open fields. Pole beans are also planted in rows, but have a trellis system to grow on.

The plants will produce blooms that will grow into bean pods. Green bean plants do not have to be pollinated. About three weeks after the beans flower, the pods are ready to be harvested. It takes about two months for a green bean plant to grow from seed to harvest.8

close up picture of green bean sprouts
Image by anan2523 from Pixabay
Green beans in a bucket after being hand picked for harvest
Image by Antony Trivet from Pixabay

Green Bean Harvest

Most green beans are harvested with a machine. The harvester drives through the field, separating the beans from the plant. The beans will move along belts and leaves or other debris will be removed. Harvested beans are taken to a plant where they will be processed by cleaning, cutting, and more.

Beans that are harvested by hand are able to be picked multiple times and each bean pod can be picked when it is ripe. That isn’t possible with machine harvesters. They take all the pods at once.9

Pests and Diseases

Many insects and diseases can cause damage in green bean crops. There are soilborne diseases that can live in the ground and cause infections. Many of the diseases are made worse in wet environments. Various insects can eat different parts of the plants.
close up picture of an aphid on a white daisy
Image by ? Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay


Aphids are one of the insects that can damage green beans. They feed on the plants, sucking sap out of leaves and stems. This can cause the leaves to curl and keep the plant from growing. The aphids create honeydew as they eat. Sooty mold can grow on the honeydew. Aphids can also spread viruses and diseases between plants.10

picture of fusarium root rot
Image by Jerzy Opiola on Wikimedia Commons

Fusarium Root Rot

Fusarium root rot is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. Wind and water can move the fungus through fields. The fungus only infects the roots, not the stems or leaves. The roots will change color and rot. Unhealthy roots cause plants to have a harder time getting water and nutrients from the soil. That can lead to small plants and yellow leaves.11

close up picture of a lygus bug on a leaf
Image by Willfried Wende from Pixabay

Lygus Bug

Lygus bugs are brown insects that are about a quarter inch long. They damage green bean crops by feeding on the blooms and pods. Lygus bugs lay eggs on plant stems. When the eggs hatch, they drink the juices from the plant.12

picture of white mold on a seed in the soil
Image by SHIRAS WC on Wikimedia Commons

White Mold

White mold is another fungus that can live in the soil. When weather warms up in the spring, the fungus can release spores into the air that move through the field. It can infect the healthy parts of plants, like leaves and flower blooms. It can cause wounds on stems and leaves. The plants can also wilt and die. Sometimes white mold looks like cotton in a field.13

Uses for Green Beans

The majority of green beans grown in Oregon are used for processing. They are canned and frozen. Some are also sold fresh. Green beans are good to eat by themselves, in vegetable mixes, steamed, roasted, and more.  
picture of multiple colors and types of green beans
Image by annquasarano from Pixabay

picture of a bunch of mason jars filled with fresh green beans and pickling juice
Image by jnelson from Pixabay

picture of bacon wrapped pork chops on a bed of green beans
Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

Fun Facts About Green Beans!

  • Snap beans can be green, yellow, purple, speckled, and more
  • Green beans are also called snap beans and string beans14
  • Green beans have a high level of vitamin K
  • After tomatoes and peppers, green beans are the third most common home-garden vegetable15

Vocabulary Terms

To selectively change the traits of a plant.

Old plant varieties, usually from before plant breeding became common.

Originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.

Long, thin, firm pouches that contain the seeds of a pea or bean plant. 

To handle, treat, or change something. This could be cutting, freezing, and more.

A tiny reproductive body made up of one or more cells, produced by certain animals and plants.

A framework used as a support for climbing plants.

The amount of crop produced.


        1Oregon Department of Agriculture. “Oregon Agricultural Statistics.” October 2021. https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/shared/Documents/Publications/Administration/ORAgFactsFigures.pdf. 
        2Perdue, Sonny and Hubert Hamer. “Census of Agriculture.” United States Department of Agriculture, 2017. nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/Full_Report/Volume_1,_Chapter_1_US/usv1.pdf.
        3Haper, Jayson and Michael Orzolek. “Snap Bean Production.” Penn State Extension. June 2005. https://extension.psu.edu/snap-bean-production. 
        4Bonnie Plants. “Blue Lake Bush Bean.” Accessed January 2022. https://bonnieplants.com/product/bush-blue-lake/. 
        5Urban Farmer. “Kentucky Wonder, Bean Seeds.” Accessed January 2022. https://www.ufseeds.com/product/kentucky-wonder-bean-seeds/BEKWN.html. 
        6Walliser, Jessica. “The Best Bush Romano Beans For Your Garden.” Accessed January 2022. https://www.hobbyfarms.com/best-bush-romano-beans-garden/. 
        7The Heirloom Seed Store. “Pole Bean, Trionfo Violetto (Purple Triumph).” Accessed January 2022. https://www.theheirloomseedstore.com/product/pole-bean-trionfo-violetto-purple-triumph. 
        8Burrows, Rhoda. “Green Beans: How to Grow It.” October 2021. https://extension.sdstate.edu/how-grow-it-green-beans. 
        9Boyhan, George. “Commercial Snap Bean Production in Georgia.” University of Georgia Extension. July 2013. 
        10Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks. “Vegetable crop pests-Aphid.” Accessed January 2022. https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect/vegetable/vegetable-pests/common-vegetable/vegetable-crop-aphid. 
        11———. “Bean, Snap (Phaseolus vulgaris)-Fusarium Root Rot.” Accessed January 2022. https://pnwhandbooks.org/plantdisease/host-disease/bean-snap-phaseolus-vulgaris-fusarium-root-rot. 
        12———. “Vegetable crop pests-Lygus bug.” Accessed January 2022. https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect/vegetable/vegetable-pests/common-vegetable/vegetable-crop-lygus-bug. 
        13———. “Bean, Snap (Phaseolus vulgaris)-White Mold (Sclerotinia Rot).” Accessed January 2022. https://pnwhandbooks.org/plantdisease/host-disease/bean-snap-phaseolus-vulgaris-white-mold-sclerotinia-rot.  
        14Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “Green Bean.” Accessed January 2022. https://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/school-nutrition/pdf/fact-sheet-green-bean.pdf. 
        15Just Fun Facts. “Interesting facts about green beans.” Accessed January 2022. http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-green-beans/.