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Cultivation

A climbing plant, the Tarbais bean was rapidly associated with maize, whose stem served as a tutor.  The two plants were grown together throughout the Tarbes plain. For many years they were sown together, one maize seed and one bean seed.

The Tarbais bean is sown in May, a very vigorous plant, it can climb to up to 2 meters, which is why the tutor is needed.  The pods are about 15 to 20 cm in length.  Because it flowers at various levels, it can only be harvested by hand.

In pod, when “fresh”, or “half-dried”, it is found in the markets from the end of August to the beginning of October.

Off white in colour, the flat kidney shaped bean measures about 2 cm. They are protected from weevils at the Cooperative, by beating at low temperature, without recourse to chemical treatment.

If historically, the Tarbais bean has always been famous in its production area, its reputation has now grown well beyond these frontiers.


Tutorage, either traditional on maize stems, is also done these days by stretching wires along the length of the field.  Which ever way is used, harvesting still remains manual.

Because of the difficulties in picking by hand, many producers used it only in smaller areas, using family and friend for harvesting.  But the tradition did not exclude discipline:  the Tarbais bean was cultivated under Red Label conditions that respect strict standard specifications and involve inspection by Qualisud, an independent organisation.

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