Red Nightfall Beans
(also known as Mayflower, Red Cutshort, Cornfield, Red Speckled, Corn Hill Pole, Corn Bean, Amish Nuttle or Gnuddlebuhn)80 days
— During our horticultural research into this bean, we discovered that there is an unusual amount of lore surrounding it. Many online sources state that this bean "arrived on the Mayflower
." Others state that it was being grown by the Amish for generations.
Since beans are a New World species and relatively new to Europeans at that point in time, it seemed unlikely to us that it originated in England. No supporting documentation could be found. Provision records did list "pease
" (peas, i.e. English garden peas) but not beans. The other, more plausible explanation is that it was being
cultivated by the indigenous people as part of their "three sisters"
form of agriculture and adopted by the early European settlers.
In the Vegetables of New York - Beans of New York volume, a description and history of the 'Cutshort' bean is provided. Other synonyms include 'Cornfield Pole', 'Corn Hill Pole', 'Red Speckled', 'Red Cutshort' and 'Red Speckled Oval Seeded'. It notes that it does not resemble any other pole beans. Bernard McMahon
listed it in his 1802 catalog.
Regardless of what you call this variety in your area, it is a very old one. It is an attractive little bean that has a light, slightly sweet flavor. Its striking red color makes it a remarkable addition in salsas, salads and relishes. It was also used historically as a green bean when at the immature stage. The plants are very productive and usually a short, half runner-type vine up to twenty two inches, but under certain conditions can reach three to ten feet. Each packet contains one ounce, which is approximately 110 seeds.