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Botanical Name : Vigna sinensis Savi.

Common names : Cowpea, Lobia, Barbati, Black eyed pea

Family : Leguminaceae

Cowpea is known as drought hardy nature, its wide and droopy leaves keeps soils and soil moisture conserved due to shading effect. It is also known as black-eyed pea or southern pea etc. and has multiple uses like food, feed, forage, fodder, green manuring and vegetable. Cowpea seed is a nutritious component in the human diet, and cheap livestock feed as well. Both the green and dried seeds are suitable for canning and boiling as well

In Indian context, it is a minor pulse cultivated mainly in arid and semi arid tracts of grown in pockets of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and West UP along with considerable area in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Nutritive value

  • Protein - 22 - 24%
  • Carbohydrate - 55 - 66 %
  • Iron - 0.005%
  • Calcium - 0.08 – 0.11 %
  • Essential amino acids (lysine, leucine and phenylalanine)


Grain : C - 152, Pusa Phalguni, Amba (V - 16) (M), Ramba (V240)(M), Swarna (V - 38) (M), GC - 3, Pusa Sampada (V - 585), Shreshtha (V - 37) (M)

Fodder: GFC 1, GFC 2, GFC 3, - Kharif season, GFC - 4 Summer (25 - 35 tonnes/ha), Bundel Lobia - 1,UPC - 287 and UPC - 5286 , Russian Giant, K - 395, IGFRI - 5450 (Kohinoor), C - 88(20 - 35 tonnes/ha in Punjab), UPC 5287, UPC - 4200 (NE India), UPC 618, UPC 62, UPC 622, UPC 625 UPC 628.


Cowpea is warm weather and semi arid crop, where temperature ranging from 200C to 300C. Minimum temperature for seed establishment is 200C and above 320C temperatures development of root is cease. For maximum production day temperature 270C and night temperature 220C required. It is sensitive to cold and below 150 C temperature yield adversely affected. It can grow under shade of tree but can not tolerate cold or frost.

Soil and its preparation

ell drained loam or slightly heavy soil are best suited. In colder climate somewhat sandy soil preferred as crop mature earlier in them. It can grow successfully in acidic soil but not in saline/alkaline soil. In hard soil, one deep ploughing followed by two or three harrowing and planking are sufficient. In normal soil only two harrowing & planking is enough. For summer season crop give a irrigation immediately after harvesting of Rabi crop.

Sowing of Seed

Time of Sowing

The time of sowing varies according to type of crop.

  • Kharif crop: With onset of monsoon ranging from early June to end of July.
  • Rabi - October - November (southern India)
  • Summer - 2nd to 4th week of March (grain), February (Fodder)
  • Hills - April - May
  • Green manuring - Mid June to 1st week of July

Seed Rate

  • For pure crop - 20 - 25 Kg.ha (grain)
  • For fodder and Green Manure - 30 - 35 kg./ha.
  • During summer 30 kg/ha for grain and 4 - kg/ha for fodder and green manuring.


Row to row - 30 (Bushing) to 45 cm (spreading)

Plant to Plant - 10 (Bushing) to 15 cm (spreading)

Method of Sowing

Sowing of cowpea is done by broadcasting, line sowing and dibbling of seeds based on the their purpose and season. Line sowing has been better over broadcasting method of sowing. However, for fodder and green manure crop broadcasting method considered better. In high rainfall area, formed 30 cm wide and 15 cm deep drainage channel at every 2 meter interval to drain excess rain water. Sowing of seed a depth of 3 - 5 cm.

Seed treatment

Treat the seed with Thirum (2gm.) + Carbendazim (1gm.). It is also desirable to treat the seed with Rhizobium culture @ 10g/kg seed.


Apply FYM/compost - 5 - 10 t/ha as basal with last ploughing. 15 - 20 kg N/ ha as starter dose in poor soils (organic carbon<0.5%), 50 - 60 kg/ha P2O5 and 50 - 60 kg. K2O/ha . Phosphorus and potassic fertilizer should be give according to soil test value.

Micro Nutrients

  • Zinc - Quantity of Zinc requirement determined according to the soil type & it’s availability or status in the soil. Therefore, the doses of zinc should be applied based on the soil type as follows.
    • Red sandy and loamy soils - 2.5 kg Zn / ha (12.5 kg zinc sulphate hepta hydrate/ 7.5 kg zinc sulphate mono hydrate) per hectare.
    • Black soils - 1.5 to 2.0 kg Zn / ha (7.5 to 10 kg zinc sulphate hepta hydrate/ 4.5 to 6.0 kg zinc sulphate mono hydrate) per hectare.
    • Laterite, medium and alluvial soils - 2.5 kg Zn /ha (12.5 kg zinc sulphate hepta hydrate/ 7.5 kg zinc sulphate mono hydrate) as basal along with 200 kg of farm yard manure.
    • Low organic carbon content and hilly sandy loam soil & 2.5 kg Zn / ha (12.5 kg zinc sulphate hepta hydrate/ 7.5 kg zinc sulphate mono hydrate) as basal in every alternate year.
  • Molybdenum - In clay loam soils, apply 0.25 kg Ammonium Molybdate /ha as basal.

Intercultural Operation

For higher yield crop should be free from weed upto 25 to 30 day crop stage No weeding is given this crop. It covers the land very soon and kill the weeds by smoothing. Application of pendimethaline @ 0.75 - 1 kg.a.i./ha combined with one hand weeding at 35 days after sowing is beneficial.


For summer crop, irrigation is most critical among all inputs followed by weeding and fertilizer. Generally, crop required 5 - 6 irrigation depending on soil, prevailing weather conditions etc, at an interval of 10-15 days. The response to irrigation is in order of flowering> pod filling>vegetative. Crop can tolerate flooding upto 2 days at flowering and pod setting thereafter, a marked decrease in yield and its attribute.

Plant protection


  1. Bacterial Blight
    • Symptoms : The germinating seedling turn brown - red and die. Irregular to round spots brown in colour with chlorotic halos, appear on leaves, and later spread to stem. Stem may break, pods are also infected leading to shrivelled seeds.
    • Control Measures : i) Grow resistant varieties; ii) Use healthy and disease free seeds ; iii) In case of severe infection, crop may be sprayed with 0.2 % (2g/liter) copper oxychloride (Blitox).
  2. Cowpea Mosaic
    • Symptoms : It is caused by a virus transmitted by aphids. The affected leaves become pale yellow and exhibit mosaic, vein banding symptoms. The affected leaves become reduced in size and show puckering. Pods are also reduced and become twisted.
    • Control Measures : i) Use healthy seed from healthy crop ; ii) For controlling aphids spray Oxydemeton methyl 25 EC (Metasystox) @ 1 ml/liter or Imidacloprid 17. 8 SL @ 0. 2 ml/ liter of water and repeat the spray after 10 days of first spray.
  3. Powdery mildew
    • Symptoms : Powdery mildew are visible on all the aerial parts of the affected plants. Symptoms first start from leaves and then spread to stem, branches and pods. This white growth consists of the fungus and its spores. Affected leaves become twisted and smaller in size.
    • Control Measures :  i) After harvest, collect the plants left in the field and burn them; ii) The disease can be controlled by spray of wettable sulphur @ 3g/liter or carbendazim @1 g/liter of water


  1. Cowpea pod borer
    • Nature of Damage : The caterpillar rolls the leaves and web these with the top shoot. Caterpillar bore into the pods and feed on the seeds, if flower and pods are not available larvae feed on foliage.
    • Control Measures : i) Collect and destroy the eggs and young larvae; ii) The young caterpillar can be killed by dusting 2% methyl parathion @ 25 - 30 kg p er hectare or spray of quinalphos @2 ml/liter of water; iii) Fix 3 feet stick in the field @10/ha bird parches to attract predatory birds.
  2. Hairy caterpillar
    • Nature of damage: It is major insect of cowpea. It is cut juvenile plants and eat away all the green matter of the leaves.
    • Control Measures : i) Collect and burn the eggs and burn the eggs and larva of insect ; ii) The young caterpillar can be control by spray of Chloropyriphos or Quinolphos @ 2ml/liter of water.
  3. Aphids and Jassids
    • Nature of Damage : The adult and nymphs of these pests suck the juice from the leaves and the damage is more severe when the plants are young. As a result of sucking of sap, the leaves turn brown and crumbled and the plant look sick.
    • Control Measures : i) Spray of Oxydemeton Methyl 25 EC (Metasystox) @ 1 ml/ liter or Dimethoate 30 EC @ 1.7 ml/ liter of water.


Green pods for use as vegetable can be harvested 45 - 90 days after sowing depending on the variety. For grains, the crop can be harvested in about 90-125 days after sowing when pods are fully matured. The crop should be then dried and threshed , threshed grain should be dried in sun before storage. For fodder, the cutting of the crop depends upon the need and the stage of growth of the component crop sown with it. Generally it should be done 40 - 45 days after sowing.


A good crop of cowpea yields about 12 - 15 q of grain and 50 - 60 q of straw per hectare. If the crop is raised for fodder purpose 250 - 350 q of green fodder is obtained per hectare.

Source: Directorate of Pulses Development

Related resources

  1. Fodder Cowpea production practices in Tamil Nadu
  2. Cowpea production practices in Goa
  3. Cowpea production practices for Manipur
  4. Cowpea production practices for Rajasthan
  5. Cowpea production practices for Kerala

Last Modified : 2/12/2020

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