fragrano shell beans

Asked May 3, 2019, 7:51 AM EDT

Hello, Flagrano shellable beans started germinating on 4/22 from direct seed, but germination has been spotty. The beans that came up are brown or stunted. See pictures. These are bean seeds purchased last spring from Johnny's with a stated germination rate of 99%. The tongue of fire shellable beans germinated at the same time in the same bed are doing very well, 9 in now. What do you think is wrong with the flagrano? Thank you, Van

Montgomery County Maryland vegetables abiotic issues

3 Responses

Hi- sorry to hear about the issue with your 'Flagrano' beans. Here are some possible causes of the symptoms you are observing:

Weak seeds- you could test this by germinating 10-20 'Flagrano' seeds (if you have them) on moistened paper towels or in pots with soilless growiing media. If seeds fail to germinate or become stunted you will know there is a problem with the seed.

Seedcorn maggot- lift out germinated and un-germinated bean seed and look for feeding injury to seeds and lower stems. The maggot is small and yellow/white in color. Bean is a favorite host and cool, wet weather and high organic matter soils are conducive to seedcorn maggot. Slugs and cutworms are other pests that feed on seedlings.

Damping-off disease- several water mold pathogens kill seedlings during cool, wet spring weather. Look for withered or brown roots and pinched lower stems of affected seedlings. Perhaps the affected beans were planted in a slightly wetter part of the bed.
Soil- although both cultivars are planted in the same bed it's possible that the soil is not entirely homogeneous and the affected bean seeds may be groowing in an area that is holding excess moisture.

Environmental conditions- seedlings are trying to grow in a tough environment of rapidly fluctuating air temperatures and soil moisture levels, along with whipping winds. It's possible that this particular cultivar is a bit wimpy. If you have more seed try planting them in a few weeks to see if they perform better.

Our page on seedling/transplant problems:

The dark particles on the leaf undersides are soil/organic matter particles that splashed upwards.


Thank you for your response!

  1. I germinated the seeds in a napkin and 20/21 sprouted. So weak seeds are not a problem.
  2. I lifted out germinated and un-germinated bean seed to inspect for seedcorn maggot and didn't notice a difference.
  3. The beans that aren't doing well are on the part of the bed that is better drained that the beans that are doing well. So maybe not damping off disease.
I am not sure why the tongue of fire beans are doing so well in the same bed. I will try replanting to see if there is better success.

Thanks again,

We'd be curious to hear how your growing season progressed.
If you are willing to let us know, you can respond later directly to this thread.
Good luck.

Christine (for Jon)