Italian Pole Beans Losing Leaves

Huntsville, TX

I live in Huntsville, TX. Several months ago I planted Italian pole beans. They came up great, and grew like gangbusters up my hog panel wire trellis (in full sun). But then they started losing all their leaves from the bottom up, with the leaves turning yellow and then falling off. Yet, they continue producing new growth at the top. I fertilized them once 6-8 weeks ago, when the leaf drop started, but it didn't help. I've seen some flowers, and have gotten maybe 4 or 5 beans (sad, I know!). The "nakedness" now extends up to about 7 feet, and there are just a few tufts of new growth at the top. They look truly pathetic, and I am thinking about tearing them out (mercy killing LOL). It's probably too late for this year, but I'd love it if someone could tell me what I'm doing wrong, so that I can succeed next year.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Don't know about Huntsville, but here in Georgia July and August are just too hot for most P. vulgaris.

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