Cowpea Vigna Unigiculata

Cowpea Vigna Unigiculata

Cowpea is commonly known as Lobia.  The crops provides excellent forage and feeding value of cowpea is quite comparable to lucernealfalfa.  Cowpea is often grown as a green manure crop for soil improvement.  It has a considerable promise as an alternative pulse crop in dry land farming areas.  Cultivation of cowpea as fodder crop is recommended in irrigated areas.   To improve fodder quality and  the green fodder supply it should be grown in mixture with crops maize, jowar, bajra, hybrid napier grass etc.  It can be cultivated both during summer and kharif season.

Nutritive value: Cowpea fodder is rich in protein and minerals.

Improved varieties:  Large number of varieties suitable under different agro-climatic conditions are available, but some important varieties are HFC 42-1, Cowpea No.10, FOS-1, NP-3, Bundel Lobia-2, PUC-5287 and 287

Soil requirement: Cowpea needs loamy, leveled and well drained soil for good crop growth.

Time of sowing: In summer it should be sown in March-April and in kharif it should be sown from middle of June to first week of July, but it must be sown before commencement of monsoon.

Seed rate and spacing:  It should be drilled at the rate of 12-14 kg per acre in lines 30 cm apart and planked soon after sowing to conserve moisture.  When cowpea is sown in mixture with other crops it seed rate should be reduced to half of the normal seed rate.

Fertilizer requirement: Cowpea seed should be treated with rhizobium-culture for early and better establishment of the crop. Apply eight tones of farmyard manure alongwith 20 kg phosphrous (125 kg single superphosphate) per acre at the time of sowing .  In the absence of farmyard manure application, 10 kg N and 24 kg P2 05 (50 kg DAP)  per acre should be applied before sowing by drilling in rows.

 Irrigation: Crop should be irrigated at 10-15 days interval depending upon climatic conditions till on set of monsoon.  In all it needs 4-5 irrigations.

Harvesting: For regular supply of green fodder in summer two cut system should be adopted.  First cut should be taken after 45-50 days of sowing and second cutting at flowering stage.  On an average we can harvest 120-140 fodder per acre  when sown as pure crop.

Conservation: Cowpea makes an excellent hay and equals or exceeds lucerne hay in nutritive value.  It would be better to feed it after mixing it with carbohydrate rich fodder.