Growing beans for drying (UK) – a comparison of varieties – Part 1: Yield

Kidney beans were surprisingly successful!

About 5 years ago we started growing beans specifically for drying. However, at first it was only borlotti beans. We then expanded to butter beans and became more interested in what might be possible in the UK climate. It can get pretty wet in Manchester and the growing season is short – Mid May to beginning of October is the frost free zone.

It has been surprising how well our plants have faired and, over the last couple of years, we have significantly increased the varieties we grow.

For the 2021 season we decided to grow a large range to look at the yield produced and here are the results:

We produced enough beans to fill 162 cans – potentially 162 meals for the family – a total of 14.5kg of dried beans over 238 plants. This is ALOT of beans. They were grown in an area that is 20ft x 4ft on either wigwams or A frames. Note that there is potential for cross pollination which is difficult to completely rule out on an allotment ground, however french beans are mainly self-pollinated so I will not worry too much and continue to collect my own seeds for self sufficiency purposes.


NameTypeWeight (g)No. of plantsweight per plant (g)No of 500ml cans producedShelling 
TresdesvacClimbing french65610667Easy
Aurie de BacauClimbing french68210688Easy
Trout beanClimbing french85110859Easy
Cherokee trail of tearsClimbing french64910657Difficult
White runner beansRunner5128646Easy
Veitch’s climbingClimbing french48110485Easy
CobraClimbing french55820286Easy
pea beanClimbing french65361097Easy
Mountain whiteHalf runner33010334Difficult
Coco bicolorClimbing french71610728Easy
Carter’s polishClimbing french45510465Easy
RocquencourtDwarf french2396403Difficult
SuccotashClimbing french21010212Difficult
striped bunchClimbing french28010283Difficult
Jacob’s cattleDwarf french1466242Easy
Ernie’s big eyeDwarf french1676282Easy
Ying yangDwarf french1256211Easy
ZeldaClimbing french262130Difficult
Kidney beansHalf dwarf1926322Easy
Butter beansRunner21342010724Easy
Neil’s white spanish beanClimbing french33n/an/a0Easy
Unknown similar to borlottiClimbing french951951Easy
LimaClimbing french2 beans1n/an/aEasy
Neil’s black spanish beansClimbing french71n/an/a1Easy
St AntonioClimbing french56 n/a1Easy
Purple teepeeDwarf french402200Easy
Runner beansRunner5328676Difficult
Borlotti beans (saved)Climbing french24272012127Easy
Hopi blackDwarf french1227206114Easy

‘Borlotti’ was the winner! However, a big surprise was how good the yield is from the ‘Hopi black’ which as a dwarf variety was very close the yield of ‘Cherokee trail of tears’. We managed to grow kidney beans which are meant to be a warm weather plant. These were grown in the polytunnel. Bar the kidney beans and the Lima (which didn’t do much even in the tunnel) all the crops were grown outside – planted after the lost frost.

Top 10 for yield per plantType 
1Borlotti (saved)
2Pea bean
3Butter bean
4Unknown (similar to borlotti)
5Trout bean 
6Coco bicolour
7Aurie de Bacau
8Runner beans
10Cherokee trail of tears 

Do you grow beans? What are your favourite varieties?

Coming soon – part 2 – taste comparison.