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I have a some broad beans plants that have just started flowering in early spring. The plants and flowers look healthy, at least to me, but some of the flowers at the bottom of the plant appear to by dying. I also haven't managed to get any beans yet.

Questions

  • Should I be doing something to stop the flowers wilting at the bottom or is this part of the process, if so, what?
  • Should I be getting beans yet? the plants have had flowers for about 4-5 weeks now. Is there a pollination issue?
  • There have also been some ants on the plants, is this something to worry about?
  • Should I be pinching the tips off the plants yet, as some sources recommend?

Photos

Note the dying flowers at the bottom. Broad bean plant

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The flowers will wilt, and the bean pods will form and start to become apparent over the next week or so. New pods will form throughout the flowering stage. Pinching the tips off the plant can help the plant put more energy into flowering, as opposed to leaf growth, but is not essential; and the ants will be farming blackfly aphids on the bean plants, so you may want to discourage them with a liquid soap and water spray on the aphids.

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Wilting of the flowers before setting fruit is called flower abortion and one of the main causes it happens in broad beans is aphid infestation. The presence of ants signals that they might be farming aphids on your plants. You have to control the aphids and the ants, othrwise there won't be much to harvest. Use insecticidal soap or biological insecticides based on fungi to get rid of aphids. You can also use a systemic insecticide, but this method has some disadvantages.

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