Yellowing of Bean Plants

Q. This is my second year with pole bean leaves turning yellow this time though they turned yellow much earlier. Last year I grew blue lake and kentucky wonder this year I tried Rattlesnake. The plants grew about three inches tall and all plants were yellowing. So I pulled the whole crop and tilled the bed over.
Does anyone use Innoculants? Would that help?

I m having great results with the rest of the garden but the beans are driving me nuts!

A.  Inoculating been seeds with ryzobia (sp) bacteria can help improve the nitrogen for that crop, and to a lesser extent for a later crop in the same bed as well.

Soaking the seed will generally speed up the germination, but be careful you don’t use water that is hotter than 120 degrees fahrenheit.  I use luke-warm water myself.

It’s too bad you pulled the crop before figuring out what was wrong.  Was it grown in the same place as beans were grown last year?  What were the symptoms, exactly?  There are 6 elements the deficiencies of which can be exhibited as yellowing of some or all of the plant.  Bright yellow, tending to orange means one thing; yellow interveinal tissue with green veins meens one of two other nutrients; yellowing of older leaves only means another one; mottled spotty yellowing in parts of older leaves means something else, and yellowing of the entire plant can mean one or more other nutrients.

I highly recommend EVERYONE who is serious about growing food get The Garden Doctor, by Dr. Jacob R. Mittleider.  I believe it’s easily the best publication anywhere to describe and illustrate nutrient deficiency symptoms and their corrective treatments for vegetables and fruits.

Identifying Deficiency Symptoms on Vegetable Plants

Deficiency Symptoms on Vegetable Plants

Q.  I’m doing a research project in biology about plant nutrient deficiencies and how the growth will be affected. Do you have any sources that I should consult? Which plant should I use in the experiment? Which deficiency should I test for?

A. Dr. Mittleider learned hard work, meticulous record keeping, and accuracy in his early years as a baker. At about age 25 he started his own nursery business in Loma Linda, California. He studied everything he could get his hands on, then he consulted with soil-testing labs – even putting the Matkin Soil Labs of Southern California on a monthly retainer for several years. Then he conducted thousands of field experiments over the course of many years in dozens of locations all over the world.

The result of 45 years of study, documentation, and work is The Garden Doctor – a three-volume set, with about 800 color photos, devoted to documenting deficiency symptoms and the proper corrective treatments in vegetables and fruits.

As I have searched the world, I cannot find anything that even approaches this material for what it teaches on nutrient deficiencies in vegetable crops. The Garden Doctor, in my opinion, is the definitive work on the subject, and should be in every library and Agriculture School in the world. Jacob has been too busy helping people around the world to even spend time marketing his books, and that’s why they sometimes are not known or appreciated as they should be.

How extensive are you willing to make your experiments? To do something that’s reasonably simple, you could make the fertilizer formula given on the website at in the Gardening Techniques section, and the Fertilizers page. You would leave out the element for which you want to test the deficiency symptom, then grow the plant(s) until it shows a deficiency.

Do your experiments with the major or secondary elements, rather than trying the micro’s, because the deficiency will show up faster. And it’s always possible that the commercial fertilizer you use might have small amounts of some of the micro’s in it without stating it on the bag. Don’t choose sulfur, because many fertilizers have sulfur, although not stated, and you won’t see a deficiency.

Grow something that is easy to grow and grows fast. For example, if you were looking to prove a phosphorus deficiency, you could grow corn. It is easy, grows fast, and the purple leaves are a distinctive symptom of phosphorus deficiency. The Garden Doctor books could give you dozens of other examples.