Cowpeas are viewed as a warm season summer annual. Cowpeas require well drained soil and tolerate a pH range from neutral to highly acidic. This vigorous plant has the ability to produce 70-150 lb of nitrogen in 8 weeks. With its rapid growth, it has excellent ground cover for maximum erosion control and great weed suppression. It should be used as a cover crop, but it can double as a tremendous source of high quality forage.
Drill cowpeas into moist soil at 1-2 inches deep at a seeding rate of 30 lbs per acre (use higher rates in cooler, drier conditions). If broadcast, use 100 lbs per acre and lightly till or harrow. Drilling at 6-7 inch spacing will have the fastest ground cover and works best for a shorter growing season. Cowpeas can also be planted in 15 to 30 inch rows. Cowpeas cannot tolerate water logged soils. To maximize nitrogen fixing, a cowpea inoculant should be used prior to planting.
For best results, cowpeas should be planted in moist soil that is well drained with soil temperature of 65 degrees. This will prevent rotting seed, not planting prior to shorter day corn. Plant peas and small grain prior to shorter day corn or sorghum sudan in your crop rotation. Once established cowpeas thrive in hot conditions, handle low fertility, shade and a wide variety of soil conditions. Cowpeas have a taproot that can penetrate 8 feet in 8 weeks. Cowpeas do not kill with rolling or cutting and must be tilled or sprayed. Do not allow to go to seed
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