Also known as: blackeyed peas, southern peas
Subtropical and tropical annual legume
- Nitrogen source (100-150 lb. N/ac)
- Biomass/organic matter source (Dry Matter: 2,500-4,500 lbs/ac/yr)
- Weed suppression
- Insectary plant
- Companion crop in orchards, vineyards, corn
- Drought tolerant
- Food, seed, forage, or hay crop
- EXCELLENT for providing erosion control, for suppressing weeds
- VERY GOOD for quick growth and establishment
- GOOD for increasing organic matter and improving soil structure, for animal grazing (production, nutritional quality & palatability)
- FAIR for taking up & storing excess N, for providing lasting residue.
- Excellent heat tolerance
- Very good drought tolerance
- Good shade tolerance
- Fair flood tolerance
- Excellent tolerance to low fertility
- pH range 5.5-6.5
- Planting depth: 1 - 11/2 inches
- Inoculant Type: cowpeas, lespedeza
- Drilled: Seed at 30-90 lb./A
- Broadcast: Seed at 70-120 lb./A
Seed Cost: .50 $/lb
Seed Availability: Readily available
Cultivars commonly recommended by the Hawai`i Natural Resources Conservation Service include: 'Mississippi Pinkeye Purple Hull' which is reported to be root knot nematode resistant, burrowing nematode susceptible.
with sorghum-sudangrass hybrid, buckwheat
- Good for loosening subsoil
- Good at releasing P and K
- Very good at loosening topsoil
- Poor for suppressing nematodes
- Poor for disease suppression
- Poor allelopathic properties
- Excellent weed suppression
- Very good for attracting beneficial insects
- Poor trafficability
- Rapid establishment and growth ideal for short windows
- Cowpeas germinate quickly and are easy to establish. They thrive in hot moist climates.
- To control disease and nematode problems, cowpeas should be rotated with four to five years of crops that are not hosts.
- Once cowpeas form pods, they may attract stinkbugs. Flail mowing or incorporating cowpeas at pod set or plan crop rotations with resistant crops.
- Cowpeas survive drought well once established.
- Mowing stops vegetative growth but may not kill plants without shallow tilling.
- Cowpeas have extrafloral nectaries that attract beneficial insects such as wasps, honeybees, lady beetles, ants and soft-winged beetles.
Uses in the Pacific Region
No information is available in this database on this topic.
Uses in Hawai'i
The Hawai`i Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide includes Cowpea (cv. 'Mississippi Pinkeye Purple Hull'). Their specification describes Cowpea as follows:
- Minimum broadcast seeding rates of 60 lbs. pure live seed/acre;
- pH range from 5.5-8.3;
- Inoculant group: cowpea;
- Approximate growing time 90 days;
- Approximate dry matter yield 2 tons/acre;
- Approximate N content 59 lbs./T dry matter;
- Optimum planting period year round at elevations from 0-1000 ft.;
- Optimum planting period spring/summer at elevations from 0-2000 ft.
For More information
UC Davis On-line Cover Crop Index
FAO Web Site
1998. Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 2nd ed. Sustainable Agriculture Network, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, USA. pp. 212.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Hawai`i Field Office Technical Guide, Section IV, Code 340 "Cover and Green Manure Crop" May 1992. Pacific Islands Area Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG) - East Area