Many different types of beans, including soybeans, bush beans and even green and yellow peas, go through the same basic stages of growth. Bean plants require different care at different stages in their growth. These stages include germination, emergence, growth, flowering and pod production.
Germination is the beginning of the grow cycle of the bean seed. At this stage, it is about an inch underground. After the seed has absorbed enough water (up to 50 per cent of its weight in the case of the soybean), it starts cracking the hard outer coating of the seed and pushing its primary root into the soil. While the seed needs water to germinate, too much water will drown it. Additionally, a bean seed does not depend on the nutrient content of the soil to germinate. Instead, it is supplied by the reserve of nutrients inside the seed.
The second stage of bean seed development is the emergence of the seedling. In this stage a small shoot pushes its way out of the ground, rooted by its primary root and a developing network of secondary roots. The stalk of this shoot, called a hypocotyl, pulls buds, called cotyledons, up and out of the soil. Once these cotyledons are exposed to sunlight, they begin photosynthesis, which feeds the seedling. At this stage the bean plant might start needing nutrients added to the soil.
The growth stage begins after the seedlings emerge. At this stage the hypocotyl straightens out. Buds begin to emerge and unfurl to become new leaves. The bean plant starts increasing in height, and the stalk branches out. As the bean plant grows, the leaves become larger, and the plant starts receiving a significant amount of its energy from photosynthesis.
Once the bean plant achieves its growth, it begins the flowering stage. Flowers start to slowly appear on the nodes of each stem, and eventually spread to cover the whole plant.
The final stage in the growth cycle of the bean seed is pod production. After the plant has fully flowered, it starts growing pods. Pods start small, but elongate and turn firm right before they start to produce new seeds of their own. The proper time for harvesting beans is right after the pods are fully grown but before the new seeds they are developing have had time to fully mature.