About the crop
Botanical Name: Vigna unguiculata
Cowpea can be grown throughout the year under Kerala conditions. It can be grown
as a floor crop in coconut gardens and as an intercrop in tapioca during May- Sept.
It can be grown as a pure crop in single crop and double crop rice fallows during
rabi & summer seasons. Cowpea can be grown in homestead garden throughout the year
and in kole lands of Thrissur district during summer where rice crop cannot be raised
due to water scarcity.
Climate & Soil
Warm humid climate. Well drained soils.
Kanakamony: Semi trailing dual purpose type. Pods are green in
colour and bold seeded. Suitable for the kitchen gardens.
Anaswara: Light green medium long pods.
Kairali: Violet coloured medium long pods.
Varun: Long purple poded and bold seeded.
Sharika: High yielding. Long white pods with purple tip. Seeds
black in colour.
Malika: High yielding. Long light green pods without purple tip.
Seeds brown with a white speck having irregular shape at one end.
Lola: High yielding. Long light green pods with purple tip and
Vyjayanthi: Long wine red extra long pods with brown seeds.
KMV-1: Light green pods with brown tips.
Vellayani Jyothika: Light green pods. Tolerant to Fussarium
Manjeri Local, Vyalathur Local, Kurutholapayar
Bhagyalakshmy: Bushy growth habit with light green medium sized
Pusa Barsathi, Pusa Komal
C-152, S-488, Pusa Phalguni, P-118, Pusa Do Fasli, Krishnamony (PTB-2), V-240, Amba
(V-16), GC-827, CO-3, Pournami (in summer rice fallows) and Shubra (suited for cultivation
in rice fallows during summer season in Southern districts of Kerala, Sreya and
Hridya(summer rice fallows of Onattukara).
Dual purpose type:
Kanakamony (PTB-1) and New Era
As companion crop with tapioca: V-26
Floor crop: Gujarat V-118,
Seed rate: Bushy type: 20-25 Kg/ha
Trailing type: 4-5 Kg /ha
For grain and dual purpose type:
Broadcasting : 60- 65 kg/ha (45kg for Krishnamony)
Dibbling : 50- 60 kg/ha ( 40 kg for Krishnamony)
Spacing : 25cm x 15cm dibbling two seeds per hole.
Bush : 30cm x 15cm
Trailing : 2m x 2m ( on pandal @ 3 plants/pit )
Thiourea application on cowpea
Soaking of cowpea seeds in 500 ppm thiourea before sowing followed by two foliar
sprays of thiourea (500 ppm) one at vegetative and one at flowering stage should
be done to obtain higher grain yield of cowpea.
Thiourea 500ppm solution can be prepared by mixing 500mg thiourea in one litre of
water. Thiourea seed soaking should be done for 4- 5 hrs followed by drying in shade
& sowing should be done in the next morning. Seed soaking should be done in night
(not in day time). Spraying should be done either during morning or evening time
Seed inoculation and pelleting
Cowpea seeds should be inoculated with Rhizobium and pelleted with lime.
Rhizobium cultures are available from the Assistant Soil Chemist, Microbiological
Laboratory, Soil Testing Centre, Pattambi 679 306, Palakkad District. The strains
that are available at Pattambi are the two isolates ( No.11 and No. 12) developed
by Kerala Agricultural University.
Procedure for seed inoculation
The content of each packet of Rhizobium inoculant is sufficient for seed
to be sown in the area indicated on the packet (250 to 375g/ha). Use the inoculant
only for the specific leguminous crop mentioned on the packet, before the expiry
date. Do not expose the Rhizobium culture to direct sunlight or heat. Mix
the inoculant uniformly with the seeds by using minimum quantity of water (instead
of water, either 2.5% starch solution or kanjivellam of the previous day
can be used in order to ensure better stickiness of the inoculant with the treated
seed material). Take care to avoid any damage to the seed coat. Dry the inoculated
seeds under shade over a clean paper or gunny bag and sow immediately. The Rhizobium
culture or the inoculated seeds should not be mixed with chemical fertilizers.
Procedure for lime pelleting
Small seeds : 1.0 kg/ 10 kg of seed
Medium sized seeds : 0.6 kg/ 10kg of seed
Large sized seeds : 0.5 kg/ 10 kg of seed
Plough the land thoroughly 2-3 times and remove weeds and stubbles. Make channels
of 30 cm breadth and 15cm depth at 2m apart to drain off excess rainwater. For grain
type & dual purpose type, if dibbling is adopted, spacing of 25cm between rows and
15cm between plants is recommended with 2 seeds/ hole. If broadcasting is adopted,
the seeds can be sown broadcast over the field and channels drawn after sowing.
For bush vegetable type, spacing of 30cm between rows & 15cm between plants is suitable.
For semi trailing varieties, provide a spacing of 45 x 30 cm. trailing varieties
can be sown in pits (3 plants/pit) at 2 x 2m spacing for trailing on pandal or in
channels at 1.5m x 45cm spacing for trailing on trellis.
Apply FYM 20 t/ha. NPK 20:30:10 kg/ha. Lime : 250kg/ha or dolomite 400kg/ ha. Lime
may be applied at the time of the first ploughing. Half the quantity of N, whole
of phosphorus and potash may be applied at the time of final ploughing. The remaining
N may be applied 15-20 days after sowing.
[Note: For vegetable cowpea grown as an intercrop in the reclaimed alluvial soils
of Kuttanad, N:P:K @ 10: 20: 10 kg/ha are recommended. For vegetable cowpea, fertilizers
can be applied in several split doses at fortnightly intervals]
Hoeing at the time of application of application of second dose of nitrogen will
give adequate aeration to the soil and help the root system to spread easily. Grain
& dual purpose varieties, decapitation is found to be advantageous as the crop shows
trailing tendency. For vegetable types, provide trellis or pandals for trailing.
Application of Planofix @ 3-6 ml in 10 litres water one month after sowing will
improve the yield. Approximately 2.5litre solution is required for one cent. Repeat
the application 2 months after sowing. Excessive vegetative growth is a problem
in some of the varieties. Withhold irrigation and apply Potash to induce flowering.
Giving two irrigations is highly beneficial, ie: at 15 days after sowing & at the
time of flowering. Irrigation at the flowering stage induces better flowering and
The fungus Fusarium pallidoroseum can be used for controlling black pea
aphid. Bran based fungus can be applied at the rate of 3 kg per 400 m2
immediately after infestation is observed. One application is sufficient.
Anthracnose of cowpea (Colletotrichum lindemuthianum)
Causes water soaked lesions on leaves, which later become brown and enlarge to
form circular spots. The infection may spread to the petiole and young stem also.
Petiole infection results in defoliation. Anthtracnose can be managed with seed
treatment with Thiram @ 3g/kg of seed followed by Carbendazim spray @ 0.05 per cent
at 15, 30 & 45 days after seedling emergence.
Dry root rot of cowpea (Macrophomina
Infected plant suddenly wilts and dies. The bark of the root and basal stem becomes
fibrous. The disease appears in patches and become severe during dry periods. Dry
root rot can be managed by seed treatment with Trichoderma viride @ 4g/kg
of seed or Carbendazim 0.05 per cent of seed or Psuedo-monas fluorescens
@ 10g/kg of seed or neem cake soil application @ 20 kg/ ha.
Spray malathion (0.1 per cent) or quinalphos (0.05 per cent) for controlling pea
Spray carbaryl 0.2 per cent to protect the crop from pod borers. Repeat the application,
if infestation persists. Apply the insecticides after harvesting mature pods and
pick the pods only 10 days after the application of insecticides.
Pod borer: Larvae bore the
pods. Neem oil emulsion 5%/ Carbaryl 0.2% /Fenthion (Labacid 50EC) 1ml per litre.
American serpentine leaf miner :
Eats away the chlorophyll of the leaves leaving snake like white scars on the leaf
lamina. Neem oil emulsion 10%, ield sanitation.
Black pea aphids : Sucks sap
from the leaves, stem, flowers and pods. Neem oil emulsion 10%/ Nattappochedi
– soap emulsion/ fungus Fusarium pallidoroseum at 300g/cent immediately
after infestation is observed. (only 1 application is necessary). Spray Malathion
(0.05%) or quinalphos (0.03%) for controlling pea aphids.
Pod bug : Adults and nymphs
suck sap from the pods. Pods get shriveled and discoloured. 20g garlic paste in
Malathion 50 EC @ 4 ml per litre, Mechanical control.
[Note: Apply the insecticides after harvesting mature pods and pick the pods only
10 days after the application of insecticides.]
IPM package against major pests of cowpea
For protecting cowpea seeds against pests under storage conditions, smear the seeds
with groundnut or coconut oil at 1%.
Spray Quinalphos 0.03% at 60 DAS in the field along with treatment in storage with
dried powdered rhizome of Vayambu (Acorus calamus) 1kg/100kg seed for controlling
bruches beetle in cowpea.
The root knot nematode and reniform nematode associated with cowpea can be effectively
managed by the application of neem and eupatorium leaves @ 15t/ha, two weeks before
Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture in early stages to protect the crop from fungal diseases.
For protecting the crop from anthracnose, treat the seeds with Carbendazim(0.05%)
and spray the crop with Bordeaux mixture 1% or Carbendazim 0.05% at 15, 30 and 45
days after seedling emergence.
Dry root rot of cowpea can be managed by seed treatment with Trichoderma viridae
4g/kg of seed or Carbendazim 2g/kg of seed or Pseudomonas fluorescens 10g/kg
of seed or neem cake soil application @ 20kg/ha.
Anthracnose : Black lesions
on leaves and vines, drying of the vines. Seeds treatment with Bavistin @ 2g per
kg, 1% Bordeaux mixture/ Fytolan @4g per litre, Field sanitation. Resistant varieties.
Application of Trichoderma.
Basal swelling and rot : Swelling,
decay in the collar region and rot. Seeds treatment with Bavistin @ 2g per kg, 1%
Bordeaux mixture/ Fytolan @ 4g per litre, Field sanitation. Application of Trichoderma.
Mosaic : Yellow mottled appearance
on leaves and stunted growth of the plant. Aphid control- 10% neem oil emulsion,
Powdery mildew : Ashy spots
on the leaves and stem. Apply Karathane 2ml/l.
Harvesting & Post harvest operations
Harvest at tender stages when the tip is pliable and they snap. For grain purpose
pods are harvested when they start drying.
Yield: Green pod yield of 10-20 tons and grain yield of 1.2-1.5 tons per ha.
The pods are then to be pre-cooled in shade to reduce the field heat. They are the
tied into small bundles and packed. The seeds are sun dried till they become brittle.
The seeds are extracted by using bamboo stick or pulse thresher.