Green beans, also called string beans or snap beans, are a productive summer crop. Harvest green beans early in the morning.
These green beans are crisper and tastier than beans picked at any other time of the day.
Overnight, green beans regain the moisture they lost during the day. The starches formed during daylight convert to sugars during the night.
These processes make morning-harvested green beans crunchier, sweeter, and more succulent.
If you can’t pick green beans early in the morning, keep them out of direct sunlight, and cool the beans as soon as possible once picked to slow nutrient degradation.
Green beans are ready to harvest around two months after sowing. The picking time frame will vary a bit, depending on weather conditions, the type, and the variety of beans.
Start checking the beans around a month and a half after sowing. The beans will soon be ready for harvesting if there are small pods on the base of the fertilized flowers.
Green beans are ready to pick when they are young and tender. If the seeds inside the pods are bulging, green beans are past their prime and will have a stringy and tough texture.
Use these appearance signs to tell when to a green bean is ready to pick:
- Seven inches long and the width of a pencil
- Vibrant green color. If the pods have a yellowish or brown hue instead of green as their name implies, they are likely past their peak
- Firm to the touch
- Pick lean green beans of uniform thickness, before the seeds inside have developed fully. If the seeds inside the pod are visible and bulging, the green beans are past their peak
- The beans are firm and can be snapped in half. Pick the green bean off the vine and snap it in half. If the bean is crisp and snaps cleanly, it’s fresh and ready for harvest
Harvest green beans every day while the pods are still firm and succulent. Picking the beans daily stimulates plants to produce more pods. The more beans there are on the plant, the longer the harvest will last.
Bush beans are ready to pick sooner than pole beans, but the bush bean harvest comes all at once and lasts up to two weeks. For a harvest that lasts all summer, sow bush bean seeds every two weeks.
Pole beans take longer to grow and mature and are harvested later than bush beans. Pole beans will produce all summer long when harvested daily or every other day.
How To Pick Green Beans
Picking green beans is easy. Green beans are ready to harvest when they reach the width of a pencil. Green beans will become tough and stringy when left on the vine for too long.
Follow these steps to pick green beans:
- Prepare a basket or a container to store harvested green beans
- Look for green beans that are firm, sizable, and as thick as a pencil
- Once you’ve found the perfect green bean, grab it firmly near the top of the thin stem that connects it to the plant, and pinch it off using your thumb. Fresh, young beans should separate from the stem easily
- Cut the stem using sharp scissors or gardening clippers if pinching the stems isn’t working for you
- Place harvested green beans in a picking basket
When harvesting green beans, don’t pull too hard on the bean plant. This can lead to broken bean tops, which causes the green bean to degrade quickly, and can easily damage the plant since green beans have very shallow root systems.
The plant can quickly become damaged or broken by sudden yanks.
Tips For Harvesting Green Beans
Pole beans and bush beans are different types of green beans, and they are harvested similarly.
The most significant difference between these two types of beans is that pole beans are easier to pick.
Pole beans grow vertically up poles or trellises. This makes harvesting easier because there’s no need to squat or bend over to pick the beans.
To pick pole beans, walk around a stake or trellis and look for young, tender green beans. Snap the fresh green beans using gardening clippers or your thumb.
Bush beans grow in bushes near the ground, making them harder to harvest. While the picking process is precisely the same as pole beans, you’ll need to squat or bend over to harvest the pods.
These positions can be incredibly taxing for people with back problems.