Tarbais Haricot Production
1986 – The
This year saw the first stage in the revival : soil testing,
which contributed to the improvement of growing techniques.
In order to achieve easier, profitable production, the maize
props were replaced by nets and suitable treatments were introduced.
The same year we carried out a market survey, with results that
reassured our founder members : the major call for Tarbais Haricots
is in the Southwest, but the demand exists all over France.
Finally - an essential stage in renewing the network of growers
- a bank with 400 seed samples collected from local farms was
established in collaboration with INRA (National Institute for
Agronomic Research). From this bank, 24 seed populations closely
resembling the “Tarbais Haricot” were extracted then, in 1990,
one line that was deposited with GEVES (Group for the study
and verification of seed varieties). In 1998, this was registered
in the Official Catalogue of Varieties under the name “Alaric”.
Since 2001, Alaric has been a certified seed, maintained by
the Tarbais Haricot Growers’ Association and reproduced by a
number of producers, all under the strict control of GNIS (French
National Association for Seeds and Seedlings) and GEVES. Today
Alaric is one of the two seeds which enable the production of
Tarbais Label Rouge and IGP Haricots.
The bank of 24 lines is still maintained by the Tarbais Haricot
Growers’ Association : it acts as a real genetic reservoir from
which new varieties can be extracted.
Major stages in the cultivation and production of the Tarbais
of the ground in spring : the Tarbais Haricot belongs
to the pulse family, the Tarbais Haricot belongs to the pulse
family, which has a tendency to develop nodules, real nitrogen
traps. In order to develop, these nodules need well-aerated
light soil, well prepared and maintained. The grower must therefore
loosen the ground in spring in order to clear all the "old
boots" (plough shares) and break up the clods (surface
lumps of soil) formed during the winter.
Companion sowing haricots and maize props
: this generally takes place on the same day, between 25 April
and 30 May. By then the ground has warmed up (around 15°C),
which will assist the seed to germinate and push through the
soil. The Alaric certified seed supplied by the Cooperative
is sown in rows at intervals of 25 to 30 cm, using a maize seeder.
The space between the rows is from 1.6 to 2.4 m.
: Propping haricots on nets takes place about a month
after sowing, when the plants begin to put out tendrils. Stakes
2.4 m high are placed along each row at 5 m intervals. Strong
twine is then fixed along the rows of stakes at top and bottom.
The nets are unrolled and attached to the stakes and twine.
Ridging and the first hoeing :
These operations take place after propping, when the plants
have 3 or 4 three-lobed leaves. The work aerates the ground
compacted by the repeated passage of the tractor during sowing
and propping. At a later stage, hoeing takes place again, anything
from 2 to 5 or 6 times during the life of the plant, with the
object of aiding deep root development and removing weeds between
Efficient cultivation : Throughout
the growing period, observation and/or the results of various
tests inform the grower when to carry out a number of operations
including : phased fertilisation, the battle against root fungi,
insects and other pests, irrigation. The Cooperative’s Technical
Service is available to help with all that.
: As everything is done by hand, this takes place over
a period, depending on the ripeness of the pods (haricots flower
2 or 3 times during its growth). Fresh beans are harvested in
the pod at the end of August/beginning of September. Dried beans
are just that : they must be dry and rattle in the pod before
harvesting, from 20 September to mid-November approximately.
Harvesting is done one plot at a time in order to guarantee
Drying and hulling : Once picked,
drying continues. Still in the pod, the haricots are left out
in the sun or placed in temperature-controlled driers (<
When they are dry, the producer hulls the haricots using little
“shellers” (“bambys”) or maize threshers. Then the haricots
are stored in containers. And that is how they are delivered
to the Cooperative, from the month of October onward.
at the sorting unit : It is the growers themselves who
take it in turn to sort their haricots at the grading unit provided
by the Cooperative. When their turn comes, they deliver their
crop to the Cooperative. On arrival, the lots are physically
weighed and given an ID, and a receipt is issued. A representative
sample is taken from each lot to check the beans’ humidity,
which must be between 12 and 17 %.
Additional drying : if the humidity
of the gross lots received is more than 17%, additional drying
takes place in ventilated, thermostatically controlled ovens.
Grading : When they are dry, the
haricots are sent through the Marot, a grading and dust-collecting
machine, which removes all the beans with a diameter of less
than 1.5 cm, as well as any broken beans.
grading : Graded for size, the haricots are now transferred
to a photoelectric unit, which ejects the beans to be downgraded.
The mechanical grading is completed by manual grading, for which
4 growers are required at the conveyor belt.
Inspection : Throughout the sorting
operation, the Cooperative’s skilled technicians carry out
quality controls on the lots. Size of beans, poor appearance,
cleanliness... they inspect everything. All the results are
recorded on the lot’s inspection ticket.
Bagging, seaming and labelling :
With approval from the skilled technicians, the growers proceed
to pack the sorted haricots into plastic 5 kg bags. These are
sealed using a thermal seamer, then a self-adhesive label is
applied to each bag.
Palettisation and heat treatment :
The 5 kg bags are placed 4 at a time in crates which allow cold
air to circulate.
The crates are stacked to make up 600 kg palettes, which are
then subjected to a blast of heat. This heat treatment, carried
out with strict regard to a time/temperature ratio, eradicates
any possibility that weevils - the main risk to dried pulses
- will develop.
Out of concern for quality, the growers’ group chose to use
the thermal shock rather than existing chemical treatments.
Storage and repackaging : After
the heat treatment, some beans are sold in the 5 kg bags, but
some are sent to a vocational rehabilitation centre where they
are divided into 500 gr or 1 kg packs, still with strict regard
for traceability. The rest are sold to our canning partners
who will transform them into soups, cassoulet, “pease pudding”
cooked with goose fat, and other traditional dishes...
Haricot Cooperative - 4 chemin de Bastillac - 65000 Tarbes - France
- Tel : + 33 (0)562 347 676 -