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Top tips for harvesting and storing beans


With winter bean harvest now in full swing, and spring bean harvesting in the South only days away, it is timely to focus on the process of harvesting and post-harvest drying and storage, according to PGRO.

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  • Desiccation will not advance seed maturity and has a slow effect on green stems
  • However, if the crop is infested with green weedy material, or has late set pods which are still green, application of a desiccant will aid combining
  • Applying a desiccant too early may result in yield and quality losses
  • Glyphosate is not a true desiccant but can be used as a pre-harvest treatment to control control perennial weeds




  • Apply when 90 per cent of pods are dry and black and when most of the seed is dry
  • Harvesting can be carried out four to seven days later
  • Diquat can be used on crops destined for animal feed, human consumption or seed


Consequences of delaying harvest

Consequences of delaying harvest
  • Once beans are ready to harvest quality will begin to deteriorate
  • Losses occur as pods open and start to shed seeds and seed colour deteriorates due to air exposure
  • Repeated wetting and drying due to rain increases the chance of staining, as does combining when stems are too green


All of these factors reduce the chance of achieving good visual quality and the premium for human consumption.


  • The quality standard is usually 14 per cent moisture content with 2 per cent impurities, or a combination of the two that should not exceed 16 per cent
  • The large size of bean seeds makes drying difficult as they have low resistance to airflow, gentle drying with ambient air is best

Maximum recommended drying temperatures:


Moisture content (%)

Drying temp (°C)



34 – 38



38 – 43

Human consumption


43 - 49

Drying options

  1. Floor-ventilated bins are easy and relatively safe to operate. When the initial moisture content is high, the transfer of produce from bin to bin and the use of warmed air together with adequate ventilation may be necessary to avoid mould developing in the upper layers
  2. Radially-ventilated bins allow faster drying than floor ventilated beans, but care must be taken not to overheat
  3. On-floor drying using ambient or warmed air can be used. Care must be taken not to load beans too deep if moisture content is high and if lateral ducts are spaced wider than 1m
  4. Continuous flow driers designed to work ona short period using high temperatures should be avoided for beans where quality is important, since they may cause cracking


  • Beans destined for human consumption should be stored in a dark area to delay the development of tannins which cause beans to discolour
  • Beans must be dried down to 14 per cent moisture for long-term storage


Source: Adapted from PGRO technical information

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