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The influence of leaf area and inter-plant competition on the growth and yield of a crop of high-yielding dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in central Mexico was studied, using density and thinning treatments. The highest seed yield (4210 kg/ha at 14% moisture) was obtained with the highest density (28·8 plants/m2). Thinning showed that pods/plant was sensitive to inter-plant competition between 36 and 78 days after seeding (first flower at 50 days), but seeds/pod, and especially seed weight, were not sensitive. It is suggested that the close positive relation between yield and leaf area duration derives from the influence of photosynthate supply upon pod number.