How to Grow Pinto Beans

Learning how to grow pinto beans is easy. These beans are of the dry bean type, which means the beans are harvested after the pods mature. Pinto beans have a long maturation period and may not be suitable for far northern climate zones.

How To Grow Pinto Beans In Your Garden
Variety: Pinto Beans Phaseolus vulgaris
Zones: Grown as an annual
Soil Type: Average, well-drained soil
Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.5
Sunlight: Full sun

  • Availability: Typically sold as seeds but may be available as immature starter plants. When buying plants, look for short, compact growth. Avoid wilted or leggy plants.
  • When to plant: Pinto beans can be planted directly in the ground as soon as the danger of frost has passed and the soil temperature has risen to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Poor germination and rot will result from seeds planted too early.

Planting Method
Position your pinto bean plants where they will be in direct sun and have well drained soil that crumbles easily. It is important to rotate bean crops, so try not to plant pinto beans in the same location two years in a row.

  • Seeds: Plant seeds directly in the soil, 1" deep (1-1/2" in sandy soil) and 2" apart. Rows should be about 2' apart. Thin plants as they mature, but pinto beans don't mind a little crowding.
  • Watering: Pinto beans require 1" of water per week. Proper watering during pod development is important for a successful crop. Water during morning hours to avoid moisture related diseases.
  • Fertilizing: Prepare the soil with a low nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Too much nitrogen will promote foliage growth over bean production.
  • Production: Pinto beans require 90 to 100 days to reach maturity. These bush-type beans will produce several pods on each branch and each pod will have two to four beans inside.
  • Harvesting: Pinto beans should be harvested only when the beans and pods are dry, but before pods have split open. Pods can be snapped off branches at the base and beans can be shelled out of the pod for storage. Freeze your pinto bean harvest for several hours to kill any insects.

Diseases

  • Mildew: Usually caused by limited airflow around the plant, mildew appears as a powder on the edges of leaves. Proper plant spacing will hinder the formation of mildew. An application of fungicide will also combat mildew.
  • Fusarium Wilt: An infection caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum, which stunts growth and causes wilting. Infected plants should be removed at once to limit spread. Don't compost infected plants, as the fungus will spread.
  • Anthracnose: Appears as round, brown spots of pods and foliage. Anthracnose can come from pods and foliage resting on wet ground. Remove the bottom leaves from plants. Make sure to water at the base of the plant and don't wet the leaves.

Pests

  • Aphids: Small, soft-bodied insects that suck moisture from plants. Ladybugs are a great way to control aphids. Consider insecticidal soaps as an alternative to pesticides.
  • Thrips: These tiny, yellow or tan insects eat the pollen from plant blossoms. An infestation of thrips can lead to undersized or malformed fruit. Remove infected blossoms and treat plant with insecticidal soap.
  • Slugs and Snails: Black or dark gray gastropods with or without shells. Slugs and snails eat new leaves and the edges of mature leaves. Top dress planting areas with sharp sand or rough bark mulch to ward off slugs and snails.

Cleanup: After harvest, remove plants and avoid planting beans in the same spot the following year.

Saving Seeds: Dried pinto beans should be stored in an air-tight container and can be used to start new plants in the spring.

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