high ground and fertile soil
This edible legume (Phaseolus vulgaris) constitutes one of the main food sources worldwide, after some cereals. The species within this genus are known by different names, among them: lima bean, common bean, runner bean, the Vica faba (Fava bean) and Vigna, depending on the country and variety. The kidney bean is an annual plant with a well-developed root system of rapid growth. The fruit is located inside flat and fleshy double ending pods, where seeds are found in rows, featuring a pine nut shape and is consumed dry as well as tender.
In many Latin American countries, beans alongside corn are the main source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for the population. Furthermore, beans and other legumes provide two to three times more protein than cereals in human nutrition. Throughout many Latin American countries, it is an essential dish and is cooked in different ways. In the Dominican Republic it is an important part of the gastronomy given that most varieties are grown inland and prepared in numerous ways.
One of the most ancient crops known to man, the bean has formed a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. Featured among the first domesticated alimentary plants, its cultivation began around 7,000 BC in southern Mexico and Guatemala, from where it entered the American continent, as the natives explored and traded with other cultures; among them the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Incas as well the Caribbean indigenous people, thus becoming an important food source. When the conquistadors arrived to America, many varieties of beans were already growing. Christopher Columbus called them fava beans, due to their similarity to a variety known in Europe.
Kidney Beans are vastly adaptable, depending on the variety, which facilitates yearlong production. Optimum soils for bean production feature a pH ranging between 6.0 and 7.5. Even though this crop adapts to almost all soils, it prefers soils with good drainage that are fertile without salinity problems. It adapts in high temperature ranges, but the optimum lies between 20° and 30°C. Also, beans require much humidity and some annual 700mm rainfall, especially during the crop cycle. It demands water during the first 50 days after planting. The selection of an appropriate seed is the most important decision of the cultivation, because this will determine the vigor of the plant.
The main types known in America are the ones under the Phaseolus vulgaris genus, which comprises a vast number of genera. For example, green pods are known as green beans, string beans, caparrones, peas, fava, lima beans, among other names. These names are also related to the color (red, white, black or pinto) as well as the grain size.
Kidney Bean planting and production in the Dominican Republic
There are three seasons for planting three types of beans: red, white and black, and these are defined by rainy periods in the spring- time, autumn and winter. The springtime planting takes place March to June in the highest elevations such as Constanza, Padre Las Casas and Ocoa. The autumn planting is conducted from July to October, at an altitude between 400 and 900 meters, especially in San José de Ocoa, San Juan de la Maguana, Vallejuelo, Padre Las Casas, Neyba and La Descubierta. In San Juan de la Maguana, 68% of the planted area is concentrated. The winter planting season extends from November to January in zones with altitudes ranging between 70 to 400 meters above sea level.
In the southwestern region, approximately 58% of the inland production is attained. Other notable regions are the southern and north central areas where 10% and 7% production is obtained, respectively. In the remaining five agricultural regions of the country, 25% is produced. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, 35,969 hectares of beans were planted in the country in 2011, rendering a yield of approximately 758,050 quintals. This indicates an increase of 17% over the production from ten years ago.