A crop of baby limas on the southern edge of Lewes

August 26, 2014

Toward the end of July, I was surprised to see a new crop peeking up through the good soil on the eastern side of Freeman Highway across from Cape Henlopen High School.

It looked like soybeans to me but that seemed very late for a crop to be starting.  One of the fields is owned by the Mitchell family.  Lowder Mitchell used to tell me - very proudly - that that unirrigated field was made up of some of the finest soil in Sussex County.  He said it had produced profitable crops for decades. The other field is across Gills Neck Road and surrounds the classic old barn where several members of the Mitchell clan used to slaughter hogs early each November.

John Lingo of the Lingo-Townsend group, which owns that field, said the crop is lima beans.  "They're about 80 to 85 days to maturity," John said. "You can tell the difference between lima beans and soybeans by taking a close look at the leaves. Limas have pointed leaves while soybeans have rounded leaves."

Lingo said limas - particularly baby limas - are a good money crop for farmers when they produce well.

Delaware grows more lima beans than any other state east of the Mississippi. Like most of us who live here, they find the climate favorable.

The limas on the Lingo-Townsend tract were planted after an early spring crop of peas was harvested.

If the maturity dates hold, we should see harvesters back in the field gathering those tender baby limas some time in the middle of October.