Vegetable Cowpea

Vigna unguiculata

Cowpea can be grown throughout the year under normal climate conditions. It can be grown as a pure crop in single crop and double-crop rice flows during rabi and summer seasons. Cowpea can be grown in homestead gardens throughout the year, where rice crop cannot be raised due to water scarcity.


Cowpea contains almost all essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, folic acid, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, selenium, sodium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, etc.


Cowpeas can keep our cholesterol level remarkably low. It is an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber and protein, which play significant role in decreasing the amount of bad cholesterol present in the plasma of our blood. They also contain steroid compounds called phytosterols. These are very effective in maintaining the standard cholesterol levels in our body.


Cowpeas are rich in antioxidants. They contain vitamin A and vitamin C, which are two most beneficial elements for our skin. Both of these can prevent our skin cells from getting damaged by free radicals. They can repair our skin and rejuvenate it accordingly. The anti-oxidative properties of cowpeas also remove various symptoms of ageing like wrinkles, spots, etc. As a result, we get smooth, healthy and glowing skin.

Cowpea ca be grown in any season. As a rained crop, sowing is done in the month of June. The most suitable time is after the first week of June. During the second crop season, sowing can be done during September-October. During summer, cow pea can be sown during January-February.

1. Vegetable type:
    (a) Bushy: Bhagyalakshmy, Pusa Barsathi, Pusa Komal, Kashi Kanchan
    (b) Semitrailing: Kairali, Varun, Anaswara, Kanakamony (PTB-1), Arka Garima
    (c) Trailing type: Sharika, Malika, KMV-1, Lola, Vyjayanthi, Manjeri local, Vyalathur Local, Kurutholapayar, Vellayani Jyothika and Geethika.

Seed inoculation and seed pelleting

Cowpea seeds should be inoculated with Rhizobium and Pseudomonas fluroscens (20 g kg-1) and pelleted with lime.

Procedure for Rhizobium inoculation

The content of each packet of Rhizobium inoculum is sufficient for seeds to be sown in the area indicated in the packet (250 to 375 g ha-1). Use the inoculant only for the specific leguminous crop mentioned on packet before the expiry date. Do not expose the Rhizobium culture to direct sunlight or heat. Mix the inoculant uniformly by using a minimum quantity of 2.5% starch solution or ‘kanjivellam’ in order to ensure better stickiness of the inoculant with the seed. Take care to avoid damage to the seed coat. Dry the inoculated seed 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. Vermicompost can also be used for coating seeds.

Plant protection


Pea aphid (Aphis craccivora)

This is a major sucking pest. Spray Neeamzal T/S 1% 2 ml l-1 at fortnighlty internals for managing pea aphid in cow pea.

The fungus Fusarium pallidoroseum can be used for controlling pea aphrid. Bran based fungus can be applied @ 3 kg per 400 m2 immediately after infestation is observed. Only one application is necessary. Take Hyptis suaveolens extract (1l) + 60 g soap (in ½ lit. water), dilute the mixture 10 times and spray

Jassids and white flies

Spray neem seed kernel extract 5 %

American Serpentine Leaf Miner (ASLM)

(Liriomyza trifolii)

This is a major pest of cowpea. Adoption of the following methods will reduce the infestation of the pest.

Destroy the weed host plants viz. Achyranthus aspera, Amaranthus viridis, Cleome viscosa, Heliotropium indicum and Physalis minima. Apply neem oil, marotti oil or iluppai oil emulsion @ 2.5 % (need based). Cultivate tolerant accession (VU-12).

Pod Borers

Spray diluted cow’s urine (1.1 in 10 l. watet) + asafoetida (40 g) + bird chilli extract (10 g). Apply neem cake @ 250 kg ha-1 at flowering. Apply neem seed kernel extract 5%.

Leaf folder

Collect leaf folds and destroy the larvae.

Pod bugs

Collect with sweep net and destroy different stages of the bug. Wet the crop canopy to destroy young ones. Destroy weed host plants. Spray neem-based formulations or neem seed kernel extract @ 5%.

Pet stem fly

Increase seed rate in endemic areas.

Red spider mite

Apply neem oil emulsion 5%/neem oil-garlic emulsion 2%/garlic emulsion 2 %/fish oil soap 2.5%

Root knot nematode and reniform neamtode

Apply neem or Eupatorium leaves @ 15 t ha-1, two weeks before sowing.

Pulse beetle

Smear the seeds with coconut oil or ground nut oil 1:100 (w/w).Apply dry, powdered rhizome of Acorus calamus @ 1 kg per 100 kg seed.


Soil borne diseases and nematodes

Follow soil solarisation using 150 gauge clear polythene sheets. Cover the soil with these sheets in sunny summer days after slightly moistening the soil. The soil temperature will reach as high as 52°C. Continue the polumulch for 1 week during which, the soil temperature will rise and kill the soil borne fungi, bacteria, nematodes and weeds near the soil surface and thereby reduce the soil inoculum load. Soil drenching with 1 % Bordeaux mixture or 2% Pseudomonas fluroscens protects the crop from fungal diseases.

Collar rot and web blight

(Rhizoctonia solani)

Apply neem cake @ 250 kg ha-1

Reduce soil moisture

Use organic manure enriched with Trichoderma viride

Drench with 2% Pseudomonas fluroscens

Seed treatment with Trichoderma viride @ 20 g per kg seedless

Soil drench with 1% Bordeaux Mixture

Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum)

Burn trashes in the pit before sowing. Remove and burn the affected plants along with the root system. Seed treatment with Trichoderma viride @ 20 g per kg seed + soil application of 2.5 kg ha-1 at 30 DAS coupled with soil application of neem cake @ 150 kg ha-1 during land preparation reduce the incidence of Fusarium wilt. Drench with 2% Pseudomonas fluroscens

Dry root rot

Treat the seeds with Trichoderma viride @ 20 g per kg, Pseudomonas fluroscens @ 20 g per kg or soil application of neem cake @ 250 kg ha.Drench the soil with 2% (20g l-1)Pseudomonas fluroscens .

Management of fungal diseases

Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture to protect the crop from fungal diseases. This will also avoid the entry of white flies that transmit various viral diseases.Harvesting

The fruits should be washed thoroughly in water before cooking.


Seeds and sowing
Seed rate
For vegetable type
Bush : 20-25 kg ha-1
Trailing : 4-5 kg ha-1
Spacing : 25 cm x 15 cm. Dibbling two seeds per hole
Bush : 30 cm x 15 cm
Trailing: 2 m x 2 m (on pandal @ three plants per pit)


FYM – 20 t ha-1 + Lime – 250 kg ha-1 or Dolomite – 400 kg ha-1.
Lime may be applied at the time of the first ploughing. In addition, apply any of the following combinations as supplement.

Note: The quantity of rock phosphate can be reduced to 50% by priming it with the manures and the entire quantity of rock phosphate should be applied as basal dose.

Sulpahte of potash – 100 kg ha-1.

The additional organic manures can be applied in splits at fortnightly interval.

Biofertilizers: AMF/Phosphorus solubilising micro-organisms @ 1 g per plant at the time of sowing increases the P availability.

Growth promoters: Foliar application of growth promoters like panchagavyam or vermiwash at fortnightly intervals increases marketable yield.

Additional manurial requirement (apply any one of the following manures depending upon the availability)

Nutrient sourceQuantity
FYM / Cow dung /2 t ha-1 + Rock phosphate 100 kg ha-1
Compost /4 t ha-1 + Rock phosphate 70 kg ha-1
Vermicompost2 t ha-1 + Rock phosphate 110 kg ha-1
Green leaf3.5 t ha-1 + Rock phosphate 100 kg ha-1
Poultry manure1.5 t ha-1 + Rock phosphate 110 kg ha-1


Ensure steady supply of water. Avoid too much irrigation, as it encourages profuse vegetative growth. Irrigation at the flowering stage induces better flowering and fruit set.

After cultivation

Hoeing gives adequate aeration to the soil and help the root system to spread easily. Pruning excessive vegetative growth is advantageous for increased flowering and fruiting. For yard long bean, provide trellis or pandal for trailing as soon as they start vining.


  1. Farmers practicing organic farming are encouraged to prepare the organic inputs in their own farm and use only permitted external inputs.
  2. The pests collected by using fruit traps should be disposed of safely without posing any hazards to environment and human beings. Dispose the contents of traps with insecticide outside the cropped area after its use.
  3. According to the scientists of National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects (NBAII), Bangalore, the most widely used fungal antagonist in India, Trichoderma viride is actually Trichoderma asperellum or its cryptic species T. asperelloides.
  4. The organic liquid formulations are safe to environment, crop production and human health.
  5. The specifications of vermicompost, organic manures and bio-fertilizers are adopted from the “Fertilizer Control Order, 1985” (as amended upto February 2017)

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