Cowpeas (also known as Black-eyed peas) are an annual, relatively drought tolerant crop used for Cover Crops. They grow upright and spreading, and as a legume, they provide a good source of nitrogen. Their deep taproot is good for soil penetration and enhancing soil tilth They are a warm season, broadleaf. They are sensitive to cold temperatures and need to be planted when soil temperatures are +65 F. (June – September here in the Southwest) Cowpeas are salt intolerant, so don’t plant in your salty areas! Cowpeas are a large seed so they can be planted relatively deep (1″) making use of deeper soil moisture. Being larger, they carry their own starter pack and nutrients with them and generally emerge quickly when moisture and soil temperatures are favorable. This trait makes them good at weed suppression and erosion control and to help hold in soil moisture. It is a useful annual pollinator crop along with Buckwheat when looking for annual pollinator species.
Cowpeas are a good forage species for grazing animals and work well in mixtures. Flowering can occur as soon as 48 days and pod set happens at about 60 days. Cowpeas can germinate in as little as 4 days – however, they do not emerge well when the soil is crusted over, so keep soil slightly moist during emergence if possible so it can’t crust.
C:N ratio 20:1
- Variety Release Sheet:
- USDA Sheet: http://ucanr.org/sites/CE_Riverside/files/96022.pdf
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